From Scratch: Redeem zucchini with these cakes
My groundhog and I are in agreement on one thing — zucchini is not our favorite vegetable. In fact, he (or she) won't touch them.
I look upon them more favorably. I have already gotten more than 50 pounds from my garden this year. I put in a few extra plants in anticipation of losing some to the squash vine borer, but so far all of the plants are healthy and producing like crazy. Fortunately, I have a lot of friends and neighbors who enjoy the bounty.
Size matters: Despite zucchini's pedestrian reputation, I try to treat it with respect. I pick them at about 6 to 8 inches in length when they are tender and have thin skin and tiny seeds.
If I discover a "baseball bat" among the leaves, it goes in the compost bin. I see these monsters sold in the market and never quite get the point other than their impressive size. For me, tough old vegetables are never tasty.
I make summer squash many ways, but one of favorites is zucchini "crab" cakes. The crab in the name comes from the addition of Old Bay Seasoning, not actual crab meat. If you are a die-hard crab cake fan, these will be a pleasant surprise.
Making the cakes: The first step is to grate about three medium-size zucchini. I use my food processor to speed up the job.
Put the grated zucchini in a large bowl and stir in 1 teaspoon salt. There should be about 2-1/2 cups, but the exact measurement is not important. Let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes and then drain in a strainer, pushing out as much liquid as possible with your hands.
Put the zucchini back into the bowl and add 1 egg, 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1/4 cup chopped onion, 1 cup bread crumbs, and 1-1/2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning. If you have fresh parsley available, chop some of that up and throw it in.
Mix well and then form patties about 3 inches in diameter. If the mixture doesn't come together easily, add more bread crumbs. After forming the patties, roll each one in panko bread crumbs. This gives the zucchini cakes a nice, crunchy exterior.
Fill a medium-size frying pan with about 1/2-inch vegetable oil. Don't use olive oil, as the smoking point is too low for frying. When the oil is hot, put in the patties and fry them until they are golden brown on each side. The secret to non-greasy patties is to make sure the oil is hot enough.
A good complement to the zucchini cakes is corn on the cob and sliced tomatoes.
— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section.