The inspiration for this recipe came from a pile of zucchini we had lying in our fridge. It’s one of those vegetables we buy on the repeat and I’m a fan—but this week these particular zucchinis weren’t inspiring anything but dread that we’d ignore them until they needed to be thrown away. Thankfully, in the midst of a work meeting yesterday (that had nothing to do with zucchini, eating or fun), the answer came: Make zucchini pancakes said something or someone in low, clear tones.
I was so moved that I immediately wrote it down on the side of my left hand, which functions as my body’s PostIt area. That's where I note things more important than those in my calendar or on my beloved Trello board. It was one of those times when I knew the idea was bang on, my mind started off with other detail: some lemon for freshness (also because I’m convinced lemons and zucchinis were made to be together), lots of herbs, some feta for a salty bite and eggs—and finally just a dash of flour to hold everything together.
I put this list together based on the contents of our fridge and I recommend you do the same: if you have pecorino, parmesan or another salty cheese other than feta, go ahead and use it. I used dill and coriander as my herb mix, mint and/or basil will work just as well. You can also substitute fresh spinach or chard instead of zucchini. I wanted this recipe to be gluten-free and therefore chose rice flour, but you can use a flour you prefer. I do feel, however, that rice flour was far less intrusive that wheat or chickpea flour normally is, I couldn't taste or feel any hint of it at all.
This makes about 8 medium-sized, fluffy pancakes—add a lentil soup or a salad and it makes a light, delicious weeknight dinner for two. They're are also great the next day, so any leftovers can be up for an easy-to-carry lunch. I recommend serving these with some plain, salted yoghurt—it really allows the delicate flavours of the lemon and herbs to shine.
Zucchini Pancakes with Herbs and Feta
Serves two to four
1 large zucchini, finely grated
A generous handful of fresh herbs, finely chopped (see above)
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Fresh juice of 1/2 lemon
2 large organic eggs
100 gm feta, coarsely crumbled
100 ml milk
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 heaped tablespoons rice flour
Salt to taste
Ghee, sunflower or olive oil to fry
In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, feta, milk, salt, baking soda, turmeric and chilli flakes. Combine the zucchini, lemon zest and juice, and the herbs in a medium bowl and stir well to mix. Add this to the egg mixture and stir in. Once well combined, add the rice flour and fold in gently until just mixed in.
Heat one or two small pans on a medium heat and grease with a small amount of ghee or oil. Once hot, place a heaping tablespoon of the batter in the centre of each and gently press down to form a circular shape roughly 10 cm across and 1 centimeter high. Cook until lightly browned, about a minute on each side, turning once. To keep the finished pancakes warm whilst the rest are being made, you can place them in an oven heated to 100°C. Serve hot, with some salted plain yoghurt on the side.
Images: Vatsala Murthy