Monday, July 20, 2009

Midsummer Zucchini Latkes, or Zuchini Pancakes (gluten free! or not)


Zucchini isn't exactly the most glamorous of vegetables, is it? And these? Well, these are not the most fancy of foods, but you know what? Darn tootin, they're good! Pretty or not, they taste great and are a good way to use up the bounty of summer squash flooding the markets this time of year. Usually we make latkes (potato cakes) with just potatoes, but these work ridiculously well with zucchini.

True fact: I am married to a man who absolutely HATES zucchini. HATES. And you know what? I don't blame him. If there is one vegetable that is easy to grow at home, it's zucchini. And it's so prolific! A single plant seems to produce more summer squash than you can use in a year! Around this time each summer, you can't even give it away it's so prolific. Can you guess which vegetable was grated into little boy Nate's cookies, and spaghetti, and mac n' cheese, and scrambled eggs, and pancakes, and blah, blah, blah, ad infinitum? I know, it's so tough sneaking nutrition into kids. The unfortunate result being that Nate now hates zucchini on principle. HATES.

I don't claim that this recipe changed the way Nate feels about zucchini. I don't even claim that he likes zucchini now. All I can say about this recipe is that when I make it, Nate will eat it. The man will eat what he considers to be the most loathsome vegetable on earth (in principle). I think that's a pretty powerful argument in favor of this recipe, because if a confirmed zucchini hater find it palatable, can you imagine what a mere mortal like you or me would think of it? That it's totally delicious? To die for? The best way to eat zucchini ever?

Oh, of course you can decide for yourself. But if you've run out of zucchini ideas, if you have a plant intent upon producing enough fruit for a whole village, or if you just want to try something new, this is a winner.


Midsummer Zucchini Latkes
Feeds 2 - 3 adults

Typically, latkes are a type of passover food (I think... me being 100% butter-loving, big boobs having, square-handed, red-headed German and not a drop of Jewish, I could be wrong), and they are made with matzo meal. Obviously, I can't eat that because I can't eat wheat, so we've been fine tuning gluten-free latkes for years now.

This recipe calls for a couple of gluten-free flours, but if gluten is not an issue regular all-purpose flour should work beautifully when substituted cup for cup. I also call for masa, a type of finely ground pre-cooked Mexican corn flour used for tomales. I LOVE this flour! It's so easy to work with and it has a really wonderful, robust flavor. If you can get ahold of some, I totally recommend using it (gluten free or not). Also, it's crazy cheap - I need to figure out more things to do with it. If you can't get ahold of masa, you can use some finely ground corn meal.

Also, I totally can't even imagine grating all this by hand, when it's just so easy to do with a food processor. Oh, ok, you could do it by hand, but it would take like, a whole 10 minutes instead of 5 seconds. I don't know about you, but I find 5 seconds of prep to be irresistible!

4 medium zucchinis
3 small - medium russet potatoes
1 small - medium yellow onion
2 eggs
1/3 cup quinoa flour (or all-purpose flour)
1/3 cup sweet rice flour (or all-purpose flour)
1/3 cup masa (or corn meal)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

tzatziki sauce or sour cream for topping (essential! Do not skip!)


Cut the tops and bottoms off of 4 zucchinis. Using the grater attachment, run the zucchinis through a food processor (or grate by hand).

Peel and grate 3 russet potatoes...

...and 1 yellow onion.

Remove zucchinis, potatoes, and onion from processor, and squeeze well before placing in a large bowl. You want to get as much water out as you can so your batter isn't soupy.

To the zucchini/potato/onion mixture, add 2 eggs, 1/3 cup quinoa flour, 1/3 cup sweet rice flour, masa, salt, and pepper.

Mix together thoroughly (I use my hands).

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed skillet on medium-high heat (about 1 cup of oil). Take about 1/3 - 1/2 a cup of dough in your hand and shape into a flat disk.

Working in batches, fry latkes on one side until edges begin to turn brown, and cakes are cooked halfway through, 5-10 minutes.

Flip cakes and fry another 3-5 minutes, until bottom is browned. Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel. Repeat until all the dough is used up. While you make the other batches, you can keep already made latkes warm by placing them on a cookie sheet in a warm oven (about 200 degrees).

Top with tzatsiki or sour cream. Enjoy!


  1. I'm in the zucchini hating camp, too, what with it turning all mushy and slimy when cooked. For years I've tried to make myself like it, throwing it in all sorts dinners, to no avail. Finally, I figured out that I can happily eat it raw, grated into a salad. Now latkes on the other hand, I love, love, love. And if somehow I can fool myself by throwing zucchini in there, then I will make myself a very willing guinea pig. Thanks for posting this recipe. It does look very good.

  2. You don't think these are pretty? I do! What a great mid summer snack...especially when we don't traditionally have latkes for another 5 months! Yum! :)

  3. This is great. I have a GIANT zucchini in my fridge. I've already grated some to put into Asian-style pork meatballs and now I know what to do with some of the rest of the zucchini.

  4. Your photos are gorgeous! I make a similar recipe that originally came from the Joy of Cooking. The original called for grated zucchini, bread crumbs, an egg, flour and feta cheese. I have made countless variations and actually like them best when I substitute brown rice for the breadcrumbs. Feta or farmers cheese is great, and so are fresh or dried herbs. I call them fritters and they are fantastic :)
    I'm really enjoying your blog!

  5. Wow. I just made this for dinner for my family. I'm 22 and ever since I was a kid, I hated cooking because anything that I have ever made tasted horrible. But now I have hope... This recipe was a complete success. I don't feel like a failure anymore! Haha. They tasted great and it was easy enough for ME to do. Thank you so much for posting this.

  6. This was great for a summer night. The zucchini was so refreshing. Also, the masa just made the whole thing taste so much better.

  7. Just made your potato pancakes. The family gobbled them up!

  8. I'm so glad everyone has been enjoying this! I think the feta sounds like a great idea, I'm totally trying that next time I make these.

  9. Wow, this sounds great, especially since my cup runneth over with wonderful zucchini from our local Delvin Farm CSA!

  10. Hey there!
    Just wanted to let you know that latkes are usually made on Chanukkah! That's when you're supposed to eat fried foods, yum :)
    Zucchini latkes are a great idea, thanks for sharing!
    -- LK