I got to the Amherst Farmer’s Market early on Saturday, before everyone had finished setting up their booths, which gave me time to meander the rows of choices as I nibbled a turkish beef roll. I picked up bags of yellow, green and fava beans for a 7 bean salad (which lasts all of 7 minutes at my house with my
teenage locusts family). The bags of baby kale could not be resisted, especially after hearing about the upcoming world-wide kale shortage. I added a chunk of local goat feta and some baskets of organic raspberries so that once I was home I could throw together a lunchtime salad with a few toasted pecans and some balsamic vinaigrette.
This really is a fabulous time of year in New England to be cruising the farmer’s markets because you never know what you will find. One of the things I contemplated buying was my very own baby fig tree, which came from a cutting off a fig tree that had been brought over from Abruzzi, Italy in 1920. I loved the idea of owning a fruit tree whose great, great, great grandparents had come from Italy. However tempting it was to own this bit of culinary history I decided to wait and let the dust settle from both our kids zooming off to college in the next few weeks before I took on the care and feeding of a baby tree. It turns out that this fig tree needs a very specific organic diet. And who knows – a needy fig tree might be the perfect thing to combat empty nest symptom.
After I said goodbye to the fig trees and headed back to the car with my basket loaded full of goodies I decided to make one last purchase. A large bunch of red onions for my onion loving husband. To my surprise a free zucchini came with every purchase. Ha! That’s one way to deal with a row or two of rogue zucchini – give them away to all your customers. I guess it’s better than trying to sneak one into every car parked within a four block radius of the market. So I paid for my onions, picked out a zucchini and headed home to make Zucchini Pancakes.
When life gives you excess zucchini there are many recipes you can sneak them into. I have a fondness for zucchini pancakes. If you are dealing with the monster zucchini I would suggest you shred from the outside towards the middle until I get to the inner quarter or third of the vegetable where the seeds are. That part can be mealy so you may want to compost it, it’s up to you. I also hand grate my zucchini rather than zap it through a food processor because I feel you can produce longer shreds by hand, which in turn make lacier pancakes. Obviously you choose what you prefer.
1 humongous zucchini or 4 regular size or 10-12 small ones
1/2 – 1 minced onion
handful of minced parsley
Tabasco sauce to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/3 – 2/3 cup of flour
Vegetable oil for frying
Shred the zucchini and gently toss with salt then place in a colander so they weep and lose some of their excess liquid. After 15-30 minutes squeeze dry with your hands (if you want to go nuts use a towel, but it really isn’t necessary). Toss the zucchini shreds into a bowl and add onion, parsley, eggs, tabasco sauce and pepper. Stir together then add some flour, but go light at first.
While you are doing this heat up your fry pan with some oil. You want it hot, but not smoking. Then make one zucchini pancake. You want to test for salt and to see if there is enough flour. You, the cook, must sacrifice yourself by being the official taste tester. Sauté the pancake until golden brown on one side, flip and repeat. Then see if your seasonings are right. If they are you can proceed to making more pancakes. If not adjust and make one more tester.
In our family we eat as the pancakes are made. If you want to be a bit more civilized you can turn the oven on to low and store the pancakes in there as you cook them and then serve all together. If you do it this you may want to cover them lightly with a piece of tin foil so they don’t dry out. We put a variety of toppings on our zucchini pancakes – salsa, more hot sauce, applesauce, tomatoes and onions. You decide what works best for you.
Tell me about what you’ve found at your local farmer’s market that has delighted you~