So, here I am with another blog post about zucchini. And guess what? I’m not tired of it yet! I hope you’re not either, because this is really the season to stretch our limits and the limits of our fine green squash friends. I find myself having to get very creative this time of year, when the zucchini is coming in faster than I can cook it. Zucchini is a super versatile vegetable. It’s just as delicious in savory preparations as it is in sweet preparations. You can’t say that about very many vegetables. I mean… anybody ever want broccoli cake? I think not. And although I love the sweet side of zucchini, the fried version will always own my heart. It started back in college when my boyfriend and I would fry zucchini rounds in a pan and dip them in ranch dressing – better than Chili’s! It was probably the most complicated cooking we had done at that point in our lives. But even better than that are these Pan-Fried Zucchini Cakes with a creamy, lemony yogurt sauce on the side. They’re my grown-up version of fried zucchini.
If you’ve ever had potato latkes, these zucchini cakes are very similar, only without the potatoes. If you have never had homemade potato latkes, that’s also something we should immediately be addressing. Let’s talk closer to Hannukah, or better, just check out my recipe here. I live for those crispy, golden, salty pancakes that are tender on the inside and taste best when slathered in sour cream. The entire house smells of oil when you’re finished cooking and stays that way for days. A small price to pay, in my opinion.
But I’m digressing. For now, let’s talk about the lighter, summery, veggie version of that classic. You’ll get to use three decent-sized zucchini plus some fresh basil from your garden (or grocer). The rest of the ingredients you probably already have in the house. Unlike potatoes, zucchini has a high water content, so it’s important to salt them and dry them very well. Salting zucchini helps to draw out the moisture, and then you’ll squeeze out as much liquid as you can before frying. The batter comes together quickly in one bowl, and you don’t need a big vat of oil, just about a 1/4 inch in a large skillet.
These Pan-Fried Zucchini Cakes are so ridiculously versatile, and I feel super confident any time I serve them that they’ll be well-loved. I’ve served them as a side dish for roasted chicken, topped with my Summer Marinara Sauce. I’ve served them as “wraps” to hold grilled fish. And my favorite way to serve them is as an al fresco appetizer with lemon yogurt sauce for dipping. It’s cool and mild and refreshing, perfect for summer. If you don’t have Greek yogurt, you can use sour cream instead.
I’m happy to say that these Pan-Fried Zucchini Cakes are actually a dish that my zucchini-hating kids love to eat. I think because they taste so much like potato latkes, and that’s ok! Whatever gets the job done. This recipe will give you 10-12 cakes, a nice appetizer-sized portion for four people. But, if you’re me, you’re doubling the batch because these crispy, golden beauties sure do go down easy. I know you’ll love ’em. Enjoy!
- 6 cups grated zucchini (3 medium-sized zucchini)
- 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup grated onions
- 2 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 4-6 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- zest of 1 lemon
Place zucchini and 1 tsp. kosher salt in a large colander and mix well. Allow the zucchini to soak 10-15 minutes. Rinse with cold water and dry with paper towels, squeezing as much moisture out as possible.
Combine all ingredients except for yogurt and lemon zest in a bowl and stir until combined. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Drop the batter in spoonfuls into the oil and flatten them out a bit. Once the edges turn golden brown, flip and continue cooking until both sides are golden and crispy. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
Stir together the yogurt and lemon zest. Add a pinch of salt. Serve with zucchini cakes.