Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Summer squash pancakes Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Summer squash pancakes

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Summer squash pancakes

We continue awash in midsummer garden bounty around this household, and are just about reaching that happy if slightly frustrating point where you start running out of ideas for exciting new ways to prepare it. Anybody want some tomatoes or summer squash?

Although zucchini is the stereotypical summer overload poster child, we have none of it in our garden. For some odd reason, my long-suffering bride is convinced that it doesn't hold a candle to yellow summer squash for flavor or texture.

I can't discern much difference, frankly, and left to my own devices would use both for the pretty contrast of green and yellow colors, but hey, I'm easy to get along with, so it's all summer squash for us, and we're picking it by the bucketful. Are you sure you wouldn't like some? We've got it to spare.

While it lasts, though, I'm taking full advantage, and have fashioned quite a few different dishes from it in an effort to keep from getting bored. Sauteeing slices (or, from larger squash, quartered slices) in olive oil until the insides are creamy and the edges crispy brown is a fine approach, and the results can be tossed with pasta and barely heated fresh tomato chunks to make a memorable light spaghetti dinner.

Good as it was, though, after a few days I was ready to try something else, and out of the blue popped an idea that was brilliant if I do say so myself: Why not make summer squash pancakes, following a procedure similar to potato pancakes but yielding a lighter result? Grate squash and onions, judiciously add some flour for filler and cornmeal for flavor and crunch, and just a dash of the South Asian flavors of cumin and curry to kick up the flavor. Drop 'em in a hot skillet, quickly brown on both sides, and we'd be good to go.

And so it was: The recipe fell together just right on the first try, and the results were good enough to make the centerpiece of a meatless summer dinner. (Of course they would also work just fine as a side dish to a more ambitious meal.)


(Makes about a dozen small pancakes)

3 to 6 small to medium yellow summer squash or zucchini (courgettes) or a combination, enough to make about 2 cups (480g) when grated
1/2 medium sweet yellow or white onion, 1/2 cup grated
1 egg
4 level tablespoons (60g) all-purpose flour
4 level tablespoons cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon (3g) sea salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon Madras curry powder
1-2 large cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil


1. Peel the slightly hard outer skin from the summer squash if you wish. Zucchini shouldn't require peeling. Using the large hole side of a box grater or equivalent, grate all the squash into a large strainer or colander lined with a cloth dish towel. When it's all grated, lift the towel by the corners and close it at the top like an old-fashioned hobo's sack holding the goods; twist tightly until you've squeezed out as much of the liquid as you can. Put the dried grated vegetables into a large bowl.

2. Peel and grate the onion and add the grated onion to the grated squash. Stir in the egg, then the flour and cornmeal, and finally the salt, pepper and spices. (The cumin and curry are optional, but I like them and think they add a little flavor excitement to the finished dish.)

3. Peel and smash the garlic cloves and put them and the olive oil in a large, flat skillet (I like to use nonstick for pancakes). Place over high heat until the garlic sizzles.

4. Drop heaping tablespoons of the squash batter into the pan, gently nudging them into neat round shapes if you're obsessive. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook them on one side for about two minutes or until browned (the cakes should break loose from the pan and slide around freely when they reach this point); flip them carefully and cook the other side for about two minutes. If you need to cook them in batches, keep the finished pancakes on plates in a warm oven.

5. Serve immediately, as a vegetable side dish or, if you like, as the centerpiece for a light vegetarian summer dinner with fresh sliced tomatoes, fresh slaw, and crusty bread or rolls.

MATCHING WINE: Served with a meat or fish course, I'd pick a wine to go with the main dish. As the centerpiece of a meatless dinner, they call for a dry white and would serve well with a wide variety of styles. They were fine with a simple white Burgundy, Moillard 2005 "Brecot" Mâcon Villages.

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