For a significant part of my life I can honestly say that I worked tirelessly to get people into the kitchen to make home-cooked meals. It makes so much sense from an economic standpoint, as well as for health and wellness reasons. Home cooking is generally less expensive and healthier than meals eaten out or worse than that – purchased as fast food.
But novice cooks are often overwhelmed with the idea of cooking without having a specific recipe in front of them. Especially women, in my experience. As a result, often food goes to waste, which defeats the purpose of home cooking.
Cooking at home is work, let’s face it. You need to keep your pantry stocked. And if you believe in fresh food, you need to make grocery lists and shop often.
But the most important thing in my mind, is to be creative in the kitchen without having recipes. A scary sounding proposition if you think that cooking is difficult.
Home cooking is not difficult. In fact, it’s way more fun than being a chef in a restaurant kitchen, in my mind, because you can make whatever you want on a daily basis, to suit your tastes.
Certainly prepping skills are good to know, as well as cooking techniques. But what I’m talking about is creating your own dishes based on what you have on hand. That way there is no waste.
Take zucchini. It’s September right now in the US, and zucchini, a summer squash, is still growing in my garden and readily available at grocery stores.
Sure, you can bake zucchini bread and muffins, but that’s not something that’s nourishing. I’m talking savory zucchini pancakes – a lovely vegetarian option, or a fabulous side dish to protein.
If you want an exact recipe, check out my squash and corn pancakes from last summer. It’s a little more involved, but there is a recipe.
So the following is a guide to make your own zucchini pancakes. Put your personality into your own recipe. Season as you like. You’ll know when the texture is perfect when the batter is similar to breakfast pancakes – although breakfast pancakes with lots of grated zucchini! Take the challenge and see what you come up with. No recipe allowed!
Liquid of choice
Chile peppers, diced (optional)
First, whisk your eggs in a large bowl. I used 2 extra-large eggs. Grate your zucchini and add it to the eggs. I used a medium-sized zucchini.
Prep your aromatics. I chose onion, red chile peppers, and parsley. Here’s how I chopped the chile peppers.
Begin adding flour, about 1/3 cup at a time. Don’t stir the flour in completely, just fold it in well enough to see if more flour is needed. These savory pancakes are not going to be as tender as breakfast pancakes, but we don’t want them tough and rubbery, either.
Just add enough flour to bind all of the ingredients. Then stop. I didn’t use more than 1 cup of flour.
These are not supposed to be big doughy pancakes with a little bit of zucchini. These are zucchini pancakes.
Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat.
Add a generous amount of butter to the skillet, and then, when it’s almost browned, add spoonfuls of batter. Take the spoon and flatten the pancakes gently. If they’re too thick, there’s a risk of them not being cooked through.
After a couple of minutes, turn them over and cook for another couple of minutes.
If you’re unsure of the total amount of time required to cook these through, break open the first pancake and look at it. If the middle is still doughy, as this one is, then the pancakes need to be cook longer.
Ideally, the outsides of the pancakes should be crispy and golden brown and the insides soft, but not raw.
Serve the pancakes warm. They’re delicious with a little dab of butter or even a little sour cream. Or simply, on their own.
I served these spicy zucchini pancakes with a tomato salad, but my husband enjoyed the pancakes as a side dish. They also reheat very well.
Ideas for other options:
Shallots/garlic instead of onions
Green onions/chives instead of onions
Bell peppers/roasted red bell peppers instead of chile peppers
Other vegetables included like corn
Cilantro instead of parsley
Grated potato/summer squash along with the zucchini
Whole wheat flour instead of white
Olive oil instead of butter
If you haven’t attempted savory pancakes like these before, and follow through on them without a recipe, please tell me about it. I love to see how you did. Because trust me, it will work!