This time of year I tend to overbuy vegetables at farmer's markets and roadside stands -- all that lovely produce just looks so inviting. Then I get home and have to figure out how to use all those vegetables while they are still in their prime. In summers past, my meals have tended toward Mediterranean cuisine. This summer, at least for the last few weeks, I've been craving what I think of as Southern summer comfort food -- slow-cooked black-eyed peas and corn bread, sliced tomatoes with fresh basil, corn on the cob, butter beans, green beans and potatoes cooked with a ham bone, fried okra, squash -- you get the idea.
Growing up, my mom would saute the squash with onion into what I affectionately call "squish squash". The kids are not so wild about that preparation, so I decided to make squash cakes, or fritters, and fry them in olive oil.
- 2 pounds zucchini and yellow summer squash
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/3 cup minced shallot
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 3 tablespoon minced fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, chives)
- 3/4 cups Panko or bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil for frying
- Preheat an oven to 200 degrees.
- Coarsely grate the zucchini. You should have about 4 cups.
- Toss the zucchini with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a colander and let drain for 20-30 minutes. Then, use a clean kitchen towel to squeeze out any excess moisture
- Dump the zucchini into a large bowl, then add the egg, shallot, garlic, herbs, cheese, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Mix well.
- Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and swirl in about 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil.
- Cook the fritters in batches. Take small handfuls of the zucchini mixture and form them into patties about 2 inches in diameter and drop them gently into the oil. Cook for 4-5 minutes per side, turning once, until golden brown.
- Remove to an oven-proof plate and place in oven to keep warm while the other batches cook.
- Add more oil to the pan and wait for it to heat before adding the next batch to the pan.
- Repeat steps 7 and 8 until all the squash patties are cooked.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
According to my mom, squash goes with green beans, while fried okra goes with black-eyed peas. Pork, corn bread and sliced tomatoes compliment any meal. I confess to having violated these guidelines at least once this past week, but tonight I complied: grilled pork chops with a sweet and spicy glaze, green beans and potatoes simmered with tasso, corn bread muffins with fresh corn kernels and spring onions, and these very yummy little squash patties. The outside is crispy, the inside is cooked just enough so that the freshness of the squash is at the forefront, and the cheese, onions, garlic and herbs combine for a satisfyingly savory bite.