Turkish zucchini pancakes
Zucchini in various forms and varieties are found in cuisines around the world. Zucchini pancakes are a Turkish tradition. Every cook has his/her own variation, so don’t be afraid to add a bit more or less of the feta or any of the herbs to your own taste. The addition of walnuts is somewhat uncommon, but one I really like; they add a delicious dimension of flavor and texture. Traditionally, these are served with yoghurt but I prefer the contrast/compliment of a Middle Eastern tomato sauce, lightly flavored with cinnamon. These absolutely scrumptious pancakes are wonderful for brunch, lunch, or supper, as a vegetarian entrée or side dish. Bet you can’t eat just one!
- 3/4 c. walnuts
- 1 lb. young zucchini (without large seed cavities), stems and root ends trimmed, coarsely grated
- 1 T. salt for sprinkling on the grated zucchini, plus additional below
- 2 c. thinly sliced green onions, about 2 bunches
- 4 beaten eggs
- 1/2 c. all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1/3 c. chopped fresh dill feathers, large stems removed, or substitute 1 t. dried dill weed
- 1/3 c. chopped parsley, preferably Italian flat-leafed
- 2 T. chopped fresh tarragon or 2 tsp. dried (or substitute additional parsley)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, or more to taste
1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese, about 3 ounces
Olive oil for frying the pancakes
Preheat the oven to 400. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast until they have just begun to brown and have become fragrant, 5-10 minutes. Cool the nuts, coarsely chop them, and set aside.
Put the grated zucchini in a colander or sieve and sprinkle generously with salt. Toss to incorporate the salt throughout the zucchini, then put the colander over a sink or bowl and let the zucchini drain for 30-45 minutes. Rinse the zucchini shreds thoroughly under cold running water, then spread them evenly over the surface of a large lint-free towel. Roll the towel up and press it firmly to remove as much moisture as possible. If the zucchini still seems wet, twist the towel and wring it out until the shreds are as dry as possible.
Combine the zucchini, green onions, eggs, flour, herbs and salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir in the crumbled feta. At this point, the mixture can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated, covered, until ready to use. (If you’re making it more than two or three hours ahead, add the feta with the walnuts). Stir in the walnuts, making sure that the ingredients are combined thoroughly.
Place a large baking sheet, lined with paper towels, in the oven and turn the oven to warm. Pour a thin film of olive oil into a large skillet over medium high heat. When it is hot but not smoking, place large spoonfuls (about 1/3 c.) into the oil, spreading the mixture into flat cakes with the back of the spoon. Fry until the pancakes are golden brown and crispy on the outside and cooked through, turning once, about three to four minutes per side. As they’re done, place the pancakes in a single layer on the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm while cooking the rest. Serve immediately with yoghurt or the tomato sauce below.
Makes about 12.