Friday, August 10, 2012

Zucchini Latkes

Our garden in early July
So it’s August. We planted in May, I moved in February, and now it’s August. The garden’s a lush green drag-queeny space. Flamboyant and wild. Because it is my mom and I who are responsible for the garden, we will not control it out of its natural state. We’re loath to attempt to control anything and thus end up with willful pets, exuberant gardens, and long relationships.
This is the first time either of us has been particularly successful with gardening. I used to think that black thumb was something we had in common. It bound us together and solidified my understanding that she and I are of the same stuff. 
My dad’s side of the family can nurse any plant back to life. You can take them a clearly dead fern and within a few weeks of their care it has been resurrected! They plant and then reap in what seems like an effortless fashion. My grandfather even hybridized flowers, which speaks to the desire for control that my grandfather and much of the rest of that side of the family share, that my mom and I do not--- or at least not so much.
For reasons to numerous and complex to explain, my mom and I wanted to reclaim the earth this year. We wanted to nurture something and then have shareable results. We, with the help of other family members, turned the soil, planted the garden, and tend to it daily. There is something deeply therapeutic in the process of nurturing this piece of land with its sunflowers, zucchinis, tomatoes, peppers, and beans. Maybe it’s how symbiotic the relationship is. We nurture and water the plants giving them what we believe they need and in return they give us food.
The food our garden gives us most is zucchini. Those plants produce like rabbits. Every morning there are more zucchinis. We eat them constantly. I’ve pawned them off on friends, neighbors, repairmen, you name it. For the first time in my life I embarrassed my dad, when I considered asking the folks installing our air-conditioner if they would like some veggies to take home. 
I spy with my little eye... more zucchini!
My family may be growing tired of zucchini. “May” is actually an understatement, and “growing” is wishful thinking. The people in my house are sick of zucchini. I get rolled eyes when I bring more inside each morning. I can sense the troops are getting restless and I've got a mutiny on my hands--- "The Zucchini Uprising of 2012", but it’s essentially free food so what can I do?
I personally consider the current bounty a challenge to my culinary prowess. How can I get my family to eat zucchini? We’ve had zucchini bread, zucchini cakes, zucchini muffins, zucchini casserole, stir-fried zucchini, sautéed zucchini, zucchini parmesan, grilled zucchini. The list goes on and on. Which brings us to today: zucchini latkes!
Honestly, I loved them. Midway through cooking them I decided to triple the recipe because I was afraid there wouldn’t be enough. And by enough, I mean enough for me. I was ready to hoard them and not share at all.
Now, if you’ve never had latkes, first of all you need to—as soon as possible, and secondly they are little potato pancakes. Imagine little discs of fried hashbrowns and you’ve got the idea.
The recipe is absurdly simple. One medium sized zucchini, one large baking potato (peeled), one onion (peeled), one egg, one cup matzo meal (or bread crumbs), salt, pepper, a little lemon juice and you’re golden. So first you grate the zucchini, potato, and onion (I tripled the recipe—so three of each for me). Then you squeeze out the excess juice and water in a colander. Then you put the mixture in a bowl add the egg, matzo meal, salt, pepper, and lemon juice and mix it together like you would a meatloaf (i.e. use your hands and incorporate the ingredients evenly).  

Zucchini latkes sizzling in the pan!
Then heat about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a pan. Take a heaping teaspoon of the mixture put it in the pan, press it with the back of the spatula (it will end up being about the circumference of your fist, but flat). After about 2 minutes flip it and then after another 2 minutes you should have a finished latke to transfer to a plate with paper-towels (to soak up the grease). The latkes should be golden brown and tempting.  Add oil to the pan as you go through this process. I did about 4 latkes at a time in my pan. 

Serve these babies with sour cream and apple sauce and ENJOY!! We ate ours with roasted pork loin (which my mom thought, might be a little less than kosher--- it technically is, but all the same I think it’s ok), and tomatoes with basil and cheese. 


  1. Oh. My. God. Sarah that spread looks so good! I've made latkes once and I don't think I did it right. They were way too greasy and I felt a little nauseated eating them. Maybe they needed to drain better... But that last picture looks like summer harvest heaven! You're family doesn't know how lucky they are.

    Have you tried the zucchini chocolate chip cookies the daughter talks about in Animal Vegetable Miracle? That should use up another couple of zucchinis and Gabe won't have a clue. ;)

  2. They were fantastic! I made them again for my lunch today without the potatoes (they were still good, but better with potato). Maybe less oil and shorter cooking time at higher heat so they absorb less oil. I love them!!