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“Fresh herbs and salty Feta cheese combine with shredded zucchini to create this version of a lighter than potato latke.”
Trim the zucchini and shred it using either a box grater or with your food processor fitted with a shredding disk. Place the zucchini in a fine mesh strainer and toss with the salt. Allow to stand for about 10 minutes, then place into a tea towel (clean cotton dish towel) and wring all of the moisture out. You want the zucchini to be very dry. Set-aside.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then add the well-drained zucchini, minced green onion, dill, oregano, lemon zest, lemon verbena (if using), garlic and pepper.Mix the flour and baking powder together, then add to the egg mixture, mixing until uniformly incorporated. Fold in the Feta cheese.
In a heavy bottomed skillet (cast iron is perfect here) heat about 1/4 inch of oil over medium-high heat; when hot, carefully drop about 2 tablespoons of the mixture into the hot oil, using your spatula to flatten slightly for form about a 2-inch wide latke. Fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes, then turn, cook 3 minutes more or until browned. Remove to a rack or towel lined plate, add a bit more oil and repeat, working in batches as needed. Latke can be kept warm in a 200°F oven if desired. Serve latke warm or at room temperature.
Summer is winding down. Today is the fall equinox, as we all know, this is the time when the hours of light and the hours of dark are equal. It also marks the time when the weather goes from summer, to fall.
Well, if you are in the northern hemisphere. In the southern portions of the world, you are just coming into spring. Our days grow short, yours grow longer. Our zucchini and tomato plants die for another season, yours are just beginning. But whichever side of the equator you are on, these Zucchini Latke with Fresh Herbs and Feta are – or will be – delicious!
Our vegetable garden did great this year. I think, after 5 years of trial and error, we may have finally figured out the formula. Plants like the sun, water, soil, AND nutrients. Brian has always been a little thrifty with the irrigation part of the program, and I’ve been remiss on giving my garden proper nutrients – this year we did a better job of both – and along with nature’s lovely sunny – hot – but not too hot – days; we’ve had good success with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and zucchini.
Zucchini, when successful, can be a double-edged sword. This sweet, mild fruit, yes, fruit, can go from tiny to huge overnight. It can go from no fruit to an abundance of fruit in a short week. Coming up with new, and inventive ways to present it can be challenging.
So what does one do when they have had enough sautéed zucchini? Zucchini spaghetti or zoodles as they are called these days? Raw or cooked?
Well, as the days start cooling down in the evening hours, and we move from fresh salads and cool, light, refreshing dishes to those that are fuller of flavor and more complex, these Zucchini latkes with Fresh Herbs and Feta take their rightful place on the dinner plate.
Latke, a Yiddish word for “pancake”, is better known being made with potatoes. Making them with zucchini is a newer presentation, lighter, and more nutritious. Adding fresh herbs along with some salty Feta cheese provides a new depth of flavor. The lemon zest and lemon verbena give them a brightness, the Feta, obviously a salty element. I find them to be perfect without any other embellishments.
When making this recipe, it’s very important to really drain your zucchini. If you don’t get the water out of the squash, you will have soggy latke.
And we don’t like soggy latke.
I start with some grated squash. Personally, I like to just use the outside of the zucchini, leaving the seedy, softer inside behind for another use. You could make a soup from this part, you could feed it to the chickens, or compost it.
I trim my squash, then using a box grater, grate it on the large grate. You could also use a food processor, in this case, I cut my outside edges off before putting them in the chute, and I like to use the large grate disk. Too fine a grate and you get too mushy a latke. We want some texture.
Once the squash has been grated, about 2 cups total, place it into a fine sieve and toss with 1 teaspoon salt. The salt will help release the liquid from the squash, and as I said before, you want dry grated squash. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so then put it into a clean towel (in the olden days we called these “tea towels” nowadays we call them cotton dish towels) and twist the top down encasing the squash and squeeze all the juices out. You now have some very dry squash.
The herbs you use can be as varied as mine, or just use a minimum amount – such as dill weed and lemon zest. YOU want to add the lemon zest – it adds a beautiful brightness to the dish. Lemon verbena, also a bright herb, is becoming more and more popular and easier to find in stores and farmer’s markets, but it’s so simple to grow, so try putting some in your herb garden.
You may note that I add a touch of baking powder to the flour. This gives the latke a “lift”…just a bit of puff keeping them light and tender.
This is one of those perfect “I love my cast iron skillet” dishes. The even heat of a well-seasoned cast iron skillet is hard to beat – and for the $$ – a cast iron skillet should be in every kitchen!
It’s important to make sure both the skillet and the oil is hot before adding your batter. Putting batter into a not so hot skillet will result in more oil being absorbed into the food, a hot skillet ensures that the batter fries quickly, resulting in less oil being absorbed.
Start with a bit of oil, about 1/4 inch deep, or slightly more, in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add the latke mixture, about 2 tablespoons, or however big you want them. Once the batter has hit the pan, flatten slightly with your spatula, then leave them alone until the bottoms brown. Don’t keep lifting them up and looking, you should be able to see the edges browning. Once you see the brown, turn them and brown the other side.
I always find it easiest when working with things that need to be browned and turned, to put those items into the skillet in a clockwise fashion, starting the pan at 12:00. Then you know what order to turn them in.
Not so important when there’s only four to a pan, but when you have many items it helps to keep track. So as a habit, I add to my pan always starting from 12:00.
It’s also important to not crowd the skillet, so for me, four to each batch worked. You can keep the finished latke warm in a 200º oven while you work on the remaining batches. Or, if you don’t mind eating them at room temperature, just leave them to drain on the rack or paper towel lined plate.
Zucchini Latke with Fresh Herbs and Feta go deliciously with almost any protein you want to have – fish, chicken, steak, pork, lamb. Fresh and light, they are a perfect accompaniment.
So go grab some real summer squash, before the season is over.
And it soon will be. Really really over.
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