At the height of the summer, the amount of zucchini is overwhelming and it’s easy to find yourself in a rut. However, these tender, small squash, in all their wonderful variety, can be a welcome raw material many simple summer dishes. Whether bright-yellow, pale-green, striped, scalloped, tennis ball-shaped, you can grate them, dice them, sauté them or turn them into cold soup. I’m happy to see many summer squash varieties in my garden basket and kitchen. Even with the baseball bat-sized zucchini, I scoop out the seeds with a melon-baller and stuff the hollow with bread crumbs or cooked grain.
Summer squash is so accommodating. One night it might invite Indian spices, like turmeric and cumin, while on another evening, Mediterranean companions, such as oregano, basil and anise, suit it. For a comforting meal, cozy it up with butter, rich cream and cheese. One of my favorite light summer meals, though, is corn and summer squash pancakes.
As you’re loading up on local sweet corn this time of year to accompany grilled meals, I always suggest buying an extra ear or two to play with the next day. Cut off the cob, the kernels can be used in salsa, corn bread and these dinner pancakes.
Note that these are pancakes, not fitters. That means that if you have a good, no-stick pan or griddle, you can make them with very little oil. If using a regular frying pan, keep the pan hot and pour in a thin layer of cooking oil (olive or canola). The pancakes are simple and so perfect to garnish with some crumbled feta cheese or grated Parmesan. They’re also very good with spicy salsa or a cool cucumber salad.
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 cup grated zucchini or summer squash
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup chopped scallions
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1/3 cup buttermilk or milk
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint or basil (Or replace with 1½ tsp. dried herbes de Provence or good-quality curry powder.)
- kernels cut from 1-2 ears sweet corn (about 3/4 cup)
- 1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1¼ tsp. baking powder
Place grated summer squash in colander. Add salt and gently toss to combine. Drain for 10 minutes, then press out water.
In large bowl, combine zucchini, scallions, corn, eggs, oil, milk and herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in flour and baking powder until well combined.
Heat a large nonstick griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. Drop heaping tablespoon of batter for each pancake, flattening with spatula, and cook until edges are firm, surface bubbles and underside is nicely golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip carefully and cook on other side, about 1 to 2 minutes longer.