My mom has always said that one of the reasons she doesn't like cooking is because it takes so long to prepare a dish, just to eat it in less than five minutes flat. That's basically what these pancakes are all about. The chopping and shredding can become a bit tedious, so if you have a food processor put it into action! If you are pressed for time, prepare the ingredients needed ahead of time.
These zucchini pancakes with tzatziki sauce are one of the best savory foods I've ever made. The walnuts and feta give them an unforgettable taste and texture; I can still remember what they taste and smell like, hours later.
Here in Costa Rica we're pretty lucky because vegetables are pretty much in season all year round, although fruit is somewhat seasonal.
Zucchini pancakes with tzatziki sauce
Adapted from The Culinary Institute of America Cookbook
Makes about seventeen 2.5-inch pancakes
3 cups grated zucchini
Salt and pepper
2 cups chopped scallions
4 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup chopped parsley
½ cup crumbled feta
⅔ cup chopped walnuts
Oil for frying (I used soy, use whatever you like)
Tzatziki sauce (recipe follows)
Place the grated zucchini in a strainer, sprinkle with salt, and let stand 30 minutes. This is to reduce bitterness from the skin. Squeeze the zucchini and press between layers of paper towels to remove excess liquid.
In a medium-large bowl, mix together the zucchini, scallions, eggs, flour, parsley, salt, and pepper (to taste). Fold in the feta cheese and then the walnuts.
Add enough oil to a frying pan (I used a 10-inch one, that fit 3 pancakes at a time) so that it's about ⅛-inch deep. Heat over medium-high heat until it is shimmering and hot.
Reduce the heat to medium and drop heaping spoonfuls of batter into the hot oil. Leave enough room for the pancakes to spread a little. Fry about 3 minutes per side, or until they are golden brown and cooked all the way through*.
Place double layer of paper towel on a plate or tray. Stack the batches of pancakes in single layers between the double layers of paper towel to absorb excess oil.
Serve hot with the tzatziki sauce.
*Note: be very careful when working with hot oil and frying, as it tends to splatter. A few precautions you can take are wearing clothing that covers your arms and body pretty well, standing farther away from the pan than you normally would, using a slotted long turner to flip the pancakes, and working over medium (not high) heat.
1 cup plain yogurt
½ cup grated cucumber, excess liquid squeezed out if there's a lot
1 medium-large garlic clove, chopped
1 TBSP fresh mint
1 tsp lemon juice, or to taste
½ tsp grated lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste
Using your food processor or blender, process all of the above ingredients together until you have a smooth puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Serve over the zucchini pancakes.