During spring and summer, there are plenty of tender, fresh, green zucchini in the markets and not surprisingly they are in the list of the most popular Mediterranean summer vegetables. Particularly in Greece they are used in lots of recipes. Some of the most common are “briam” -a dish similar to ratatouille- stuffed zucchini with rice and herbs, fried or grilled zucchini slices or simply steamed zucchini drizzled with lemon and olive oil.
Last weekend I bought some fresh zucchini and I wanted to use them a little more creatively than I usually do.
Since I am a huge fun of pancakes, the first thing that came to my mind was to make pancakes with grated zucchini. As I wanted a rich and earthy, nutty flavor I used a blend of chickpea flour and whole meal, while for extra flavor I added plenty of fresh spearmint and spices.
Since pancakes call for a creamy accompanying, I made a refreshing avocado-based tzatziki (avocado replaces yoghurt) and grated zucchini instead of grated cucumber, using a recipe I actually got from Lena -a good friend of mine.
The third part of the plate was the traditional Greek salad, in which cucumbers were also replaced by zucchini and for some extra flavor, I added a little fresh, chopped spearmint, cut directly from my pots.
To complete our lunch and let the taste lead us in the sea of memories and in the heart of the summer, we accompanied this meal with fresh fried potatoes and two glasses of cool white wine.
For the pancakes with zucchini
- 400 gr zucchini coarsely grated
- 1 medium onion, grated
- 150 gr (1 ½ cups) chickpea flour
- 100 gr (3/4 cup) semolina (I used whole-wheat)
- 1 handful of tender, fresh spearmint leaves, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp curry powder
- ½ tsp ground paprika
- ½ tsp smoked paprika, ground
- 1 tsp salt
- freshly ground pepper
For the avocado-zucchini tzatziki
- 200 gr zucchini (3 medium) coarsely grated (we can use cucumber instead)
- 200 gr flesh from about 2 ripe avocados
- 1 garlic clove crashed and minced
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- salt and freshly ground pepper
For the Greek salad
- 2 medium, ripe tomatoes cut into cubes
- 2 tender zucchini cut into thin slices
- 1 fresh spring onion or ½ onion cut into thin slices
- 1 small green or red bell-pepper, sliced
- small handful of tender, fresh spearmint leaves , finely chopped
- 10 olives
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp oregano
- For the pancakes: mix all the ingredients except from the spearmint with a fork in a bowl. Place the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
- After 3 hours, add the chopped spearmint and stir.
- Grease lightly a nonstick frying pan and place over medium heat.
- With a spoon, pour spoons of the mixture in the pan so as to form 4-5 round or oval pancakes. Once baked and get golden brown on the one side, turn them upside down with the help of a wooden spatula and let them cook on the other.
- Repeat this process until all the mixture is used. With this recipe you will make about 20-25 pancakes (depending on their size).
- Make the tzatziki: put the grated zucchini (or cucumbers) in a fine sieve, add salt and leave them for 1 hour to drain. Then press or squeeze them with your hands and transfer in a bowl.
- Mash the avocado or blend in a blender along with the garlic, the lemon-juice and the vinegar.
- Transfer the mixture into the bowl with the grated zucchini, stir with a spoon and taste, adding salt or vinegar (or even garlic if you like a stronger taste) as necessary.
- Put in an airtight glass container and place immediately in the fridge.
- Make the salad just before serving: Put all ingredients in a salad bowl, add salt, oregano, olive oil and vinegar, stir and serve.
Note: chickpea flour is a pulse flour made from ground chickpeas and is used in many Asian countries, such as India and Pakistan. Its advantage compared to common wheat flours, is that it doesn’t contain gluten and it is also higher in protein, certain vitamins, iron and trace minerals. It is easily found in organic shops or Asian stores. I buy it in bulk from an Asian store in the central market of Athens where it costs around 2 euros per kilo. It may be an “extra” material in the recipe, but it is really worthy, since not only it replaces the eggs and helps to keep our materials together, but it also gives an extra nice texture and flavor to the recipe.