Late last summer, I had the fortunate opportunity to follow culinary instructor Blake Van Roekel of Keuken on a tour Zenger Farm in southeast Portland, and then a short cooking class in Robert Reynolds' lovely Chefs Studio. She prepared simple but wonderful zucchini cakes. We ate them with wine from Cameron (I think it was the Giovanni), and I was charmed by the whole experience.
This week, after running around all summer from trip to trip, I finally had some time and motivation (as well as inspiration from the farmers market) to flip through cookbooks, and actually cook. I made a simple tomato sauce with spaghetti on Monday night, with tomatoes so ripe I could peel them without boiling, and a salad with peach, arugula, feta, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Summer produce makes cooking so simple.
My new favorite cookbook is David Tanis' (of Chez Panisse and legendary Parisian dinners) "Heart of the Artichoke." The recipes are fairly simple, inspired by his own experience, and most are in small enough portions for me to prepare for myself. The book itself is beautiful as well. So, with all the zucchini so abundant this time of year (as well as summer squash), I cooked his zucchini cakes, substituting the recommended scallions for shallot, as that was all I had, which actually provided a nice deep flavor. What a great use for these vegetables, with a dish that you could eat as an entree with tomato sauce or pesto, for breakfast, or cold as a frittata-like snack. I took mine and ate them with brown rice, pesto and pinto beans, as I'm on both a budget-tightening and health-conscious kick this week.
You may look at these and think that they're not so pretty. Well, it's not the recipe's fault, it's all mine. A word of advice: when cooking zucchini, don't talk on the phone with an old friend during the part when you're supposed to drain the zucchini. You will end up with watery batter, as I did, and the cakes, while delicious, will not fry up firm.