Food for Thought: When life hands you zucchinis... | KNKX

Food for Thought: When life hands you zucchinis...

Jul 17, 2019

If you know gardeners, sooner or later one of them will present you with a zucchini the size of a baby seal. When that happens, don't wonder if there's room in the hall closet. Make zucchini "crab" cakes. I told Nancy Leson about this years ago and she still hasn't made them. But you should.

But first, "lettuce" praise famous gems.

Gem lettuce. A variety I'd never heard of until Leson brought it up. "They're pretty little baby lettuces."

Nancy's gem lettuce on tall table, center.
Credit Nancy Leson / KNKX

Nancy also has been buying lettuce at her local farmers market and she says she's finally taking her own storage advice. Whether home grown or from the market, she washes, spins, wraps in paper towels and containers it in the fridge. "So that all week long I have fresh salad ready to roll." But I digress...

To the zucchini cakes. 

When I was first told about this dish by Kelly from KNKX Listener Services, I listened politely but inside I scoffed. It just sounded so nutty. But I've made them several times now and they really deliver. The texture and flavor are remarkably similar to that of real crab cakes.

Dick's Tips: This time around I added some fish sauce to enhance the pescatorial profile. The best way to squeeze maximum water from the salted shreds is to wrap them in a clean dish towel and twist it tightly.  Refrigerating the mix for at least an hour prior to shaping helps the cakes hold together.  

From Kim O'Donnel's Washington Post blog "A Mighty Appetite."

Adapted from John Shields, chef/owner of Gertrude's, Baltimore, Maryland; recipe appears in "Cooking Fresh From the Mid-Atlantic" edited by Fran McManus & Wendy Rickard

KOD note: Years ago, I had heard from a vegetarian reader about this method of shredding zucchini and seasoning it with Old Bay to mimic a crab cake. I should have heeded her advice much sooner; these are a vegetarian dream come true! It is remarkable how much these taste like crab cakes, particularly if patties are small and thin. A real kick in the pants.

2 cups coarsely grated zucchini
1 cup bread crumbs
1 egg beaten
1 ½ teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon mayonnaise or plain yogurt
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
vegetable oil, for frying

Place grated zucchini in a colander; sprinkle lightly with salt. Let zucchini sit for about 30 minutes, allowing it to drain. Squeeze to remove additional liquid -- zucchini should be fairly dry.

Place zucchini and bread crumbs in a large bowl and mix together.

Place egg, Old Bay, Dijon, mayo, lemon juice and parsley in a small bowl. Mix well.

Pour egg mixture into zucchini-bread crumb mixture, and mix gently and thoroughly. Form into 8 patties the size of crab cakes. Heat a small amount of oil in a saute pan, and cook patties on both sides, browning well.

Serve with tartar sauce, chopped capers, fresh basil and/or lemon wedges. Goes really well with halved sun gold or cherry tomatoes. 

"The trouble is you cannot grow just one zucchini." – Dave Barry