Friday, July 5, 2013
Farm Fridays: Zucchini and Garlic Scape Latkes with Creamy Basil Sauce
I'm getting the impression that this is going to be a great year for cucumbers and summer squash. I have two enormous yellow squash plants in my garden (not producing yet, but huge and vigorous) and my cucumber vines have already started churning out some big ones. We've been getting large quantities of cucumbers and squash from the farm as well.
My favorite way to eat any summer squash is to grill it (just cut it into long planks, rub with oil and season with salt and pepper). Unfortunately, the weather hasn't been very cooperative for grilling lately. It seems like every time we so much as lift a corner of the grill cover, the skies open up. I chose this recipe as an alternative to grilling my crisper drawer full of zucchini.
I was a little trepidatious because, while Jeff and I have made latkes several times, we never seem to get it right: either they're soggy or falling apart or more egg than potato. Yet I still persist in trying new recipes, hoping we'll figure it out eventually. Jeff raised his eyebrows when I proposed this recipe, but gamely went along with it. Good thing, too, because these are probably the most successful latkes we've ever made. Perhaps our problem is with starchy potatoes, because these zucchini latkes came together like a dream. I think our success came from squeezing a ton of water out of the zucchini (one of the pictures below shows how dry we were able to get it) before we mixed the batter. That ensured the latkes weren't soggy. While they didn't crisp up like potato latkes do (when done correctly, by people other than us, that is), the flavors and textures were delicious. The basil was a stand-out flavor in both the latkes and the sauce, complementing the zucchini and garlic beautifully. Isn't it great how seasonal flavors work so well together?
Zucchini and Garlic Scape Latkes with Creamy Basil Sauce
Adapted from Sassy Radish.
1 1/2 lbs zucchini
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
scant 2/3 c flour
1/4 c basil, slivered
2 eggs, lightly beaten (the local eggs we used were very large and our latkes turned out just slightly too eggy - try not to overdo it on the egg)
2 garlic scapes, thinly sliced (about 3-4 tbsp)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 c Greek yogurt
1/4 c basil, slivered
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Trim one end off of each zucchini then shred using a box grater (don't cut off the other end - use it as a handle and add it to the stock bag when you're done!). Transfer to a large colander and toss with salt. Position the colander over a large bowl and let sit 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the creamy basil sauce. Add the yogurt, basil, lemon zest and lemon juice to a small bowl and stir well to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste, stirring to combine once more. Set aside to let the flavors meld.
After 15 minutes, transfer the shredded zucchini to a clean cheesecloth or kitchen towel. Twist and squeeze well to remove as much water as possible.
Pour enough oil into a cast iron skillet (or other large, heavy pan) to cover the bottom completely. Heat over medium-high, until shimmering.
Meanwhile, add the zucchini to a medium bowl and combine with flour, basil, eggs, garlic scapes, baking powder and pepper. Mix to form a batter.
Reduce heat to medium and drop 1/4 cupfuls of batter into the skillet, arranging them into firm patties with a fork (we fit three large latkes at a time in our 9" skillet). Gently flatten the tops and tuck in any straggly bits on the sides.
Cook 3-4 minutes, then flip gently with a spatula and cook another 3-4 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Remove to a paper bag or paper towel-lined plate to drain while the next batches cook (this recipe made three batches for us - nine latkes in all).
Serve nice and hot with creamy basil sauce on the side!