By Karen L. Ranz
I’m not the greatest gardener, but I’m growing things this year, nevertheless. My zucchini is coming along sufficiently well. So sufficiently, in fact, that I’ve had to develop strategies to get rid of it. I pick someone who’s captive where they are (like at a front desk) and not really in a position to say no, and hand them off and scram! (I’m the one saying thank-you in these cases, but it’s over my shoulder as I’m heading towards the door.)
It’s worked out well so far and I’m glad, because the tomatoes are finally starting to ripen. I know I’ll have too many of those, too. This late in the season having too much in the garden can become a problem. One year I had so many tomatoes that I would fill a paper grocery bag and take them down the street, giving them out randomly, a couple evenings a week. And just as I arrived I could swear porch lights were blinking off abruptly and window shades coming down so fast you wouldn’t believe. I can just imagine what was being said inside too: “Shhh! Be quiet! Here she comes again. Pretend we’re not home!”
Anyway, whether your neighbor is generous, you have your own patch, or even if you’ve just bought them at the farmers market each weekend for the last two months, you’re probably getting tired of figuring out new ways to feed your family zucchini. I did a quick search of “zucchini recipes” and got many more than 11 pages. I had to stop looking when I saw “recipe for pressure canning zucchini.” I can’t even stand to think about ratatouille anymore this summer.
I did see a recipe recently for zucchini cakes that looked interesting but seemed a bit off. After wondering about it a while, I gave it a shot. It was a bit off, but I didn’t mind the results. Thinking I could improve on it, and having ample zucchini, I've tinkered with it a bit over the last couple weeks. I had one for breakfast today. In fact, I wanted to double the recipe for this article as well as try it with an over-sized squash, so I made some again this afternoon. I think I’ve finally got it down. I’m also pretty pleased because I may not have to target innocent people much longer. I think I’m ready for next year when I plant too much again.
While the original recipe was called zucchini cakes, I would call them fritters. I like that the recipe is quick to make with a minimum of ingredients that I typically keep on hand. I could see myself cooking stream side with these and a pan of fresh trout run through some seasoned cornmeal. I would be pleased to serve these to company, even this late in the summer. Just remember that anything crisp will not remain crisp for too long, so work quickly in the largest sauté pan you have and get them onto plates in front of hungry people. A round pancake turner would be a bonus if you have one because these are delicate.
- 1 large or 2 medium zucchini or yellow squash
- 1 medium to large onion
- 2 eggs
- 3 Tbsp cornmeal
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Olive oil
Using the shredding disk on a food processor, grate the zucchini and onion. (If you’re doing this by hand, trim off the blossom end of the squash and shred it on a grater set on a clean dish towel using the stem end as a handle when you get down to the last bit.) Squeeze the excess liquid out by wringing this in the dish towel, then transfer it to a mixing bowl. Add the eggs, cornmeal, and salt, and stir to combine.
Add to your largest sauté pan just enough oil to be able to swirl and heat over medium high heat until it shimmers. Form 3” fritters about ½” high without crowding and cook until the bottoms are nicely brown. Just before flipping, shake salt over the tops, then flip and shake salt on the browned side right away. Remove to drain on paper towels tented loosely with foil.
By the time you’re ready for the second batch, the salt in the mixture will have drawn out more liquid from the vegetables, so just pour off some of the excess.
These are light and delicately flavored with the addition of a little extra salt on their crisp exteriors setting off the experience in your mouth. This being Vermont, I could see a little maple syrup going on these as well – just a drizzle. Or even a bit of cheddar shredded into them, but again, not too much.
Back to the topic of having fun growing fresh veggies, Cindi Wight, Rutland City’s Superintendent of Recreation and Parks, has installed a red canoe as a fun new garden alongside the new raised beds at the community gardens on Allen Street. Plans are to install four more boats “moored” in the meadow with tall grasses and wildflowers serving as “waves” and ”water." She’s hoping for four more boats to be donated. If you know of one, contact Cindi at (802) 773-1822. This might become Rutland’s first yacht club -- for gardeners.
Karen Ranz is an avid cook and involved community volunteer. She’s fairly successful at planting things in the ground and hoping for the best and will actually be having RAFFL’s Glean Team take over her garden for the remainder of the season to donate the produce to those in need of a bit more.