Like most people this time of year, I am heaving under the weight of squash that comes to me from generous family and friends. What to do with all that zucchini!? This weekend I’ll make some bread. But tonight I tried making some zucchini herb pancakes, which I learned to make when I took a cooking series at Tante Marie, a French cooking school here in SF. They were very successful, especially with some romesco sauce.
Zucchini Herb Pancakes with Romesco
1 medium-sized tomato, halved crosswise and seeded
1 small red bell pepper, cut in half and seeded
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used safflower)
3 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 garlic cove, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons coarse dry bread crumbs (I used panko)
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound zucchini, coarsely grated
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste (I always use kosher salt in cooking)
1 medium russet potato, peeled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (I used thyme)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup flour
1 large egg, beaten
Make the romesco: Preheat the broiler and place oven rack in the top third of the oven. Place tomato and red pepper on a baking sheet and broil until the skins are charred. I always was wimpy with this step. You really need to let the skins turn black. Sometimes I just put a whole pepper on a gas burner and char it. Transfer the tomato and pepper to a bowl and cover in aluminum or plastic wrap for a few minutes. Peel the skin away from the tomato and pepper and discard. Remove the rest of the seeds and coarsely chop. Place in a bowl of a food processor.
Heat the oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the almonds and toast about 3 minutes until golden. Nuts burn really fast so this is not a good time to multi-task. Pay attention and stay close. In fact, you should pull the almonds off the burner earlier than later because they’ll continue cooking in the hot oil. Add the garlic and crushed pepper and cook for one minute. Stir in the breadcrumbs and remove from the heat. Scrape the mixture into the food processor with the vegetables and puree until smooth. Taste first, then add vinegar. It’s a great lesson in building flavors and complexity in a sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Make the pancakes: Place grated zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with the teaspoon of salt. Toss gently and let sit over a bowl 30 minutes to drain. Squeeze out liquid. I used a couple sheets of paper towels. Place in bowl.
Coarsely grate the potato, working quickly to avoid discoloration, and add it to the zucchini. Add the herbs, flour, salt and pepper and mix well. Stir in egg and combine
Heat a small amount of oil–just enough to cover the pan–in a large skillet. Spoon about a tablespoon of the mixture into the pan for each pancake. Do not crowd. Press gently on the pancakes with the back of a spatula to flatten them. Cook until golden, about two minutes per side.
I placed them on a cookie sheet and popped them into a 250-degree oven to keep them warm while I finished a couple batches.
Serve with romesco. Sometimes it’s really yummy with sour cream, too.