Friday, July 31, 2009

Zucchini Lulu


This was a recipe my grandma Lulu got from some Italian neighbors of hers, back in the days when few Canadians had ever heard of balsamic vinegar. These Italians made their own, and I remember loving this dish with an accompanying feeling of despair that I would never be able to make it myself without them to supply me...

Zucchini Lulu
Serves 1 hungry person or 2 as a side dish

1 grocery store sized (or equivalent piece of garden sized, seeds removed) zucchini
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint (or 1 tsp dried)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Slice the zucchini very fine. I used the slicing end of my box grater. Place it in a colander, sprinkle 1 tsp salt over it, and mix it up with your hands. Leave it for 20 minutes to 1/2 hour while you assemble whatever else you're going to be serving with this. The zucchini will begin to "sweat". Take up fistfuls of the zucchini and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. You don't have to squeeze out all the liquid, but the more you get out, the more crispy the end result will be. In the end, it should look something like this:

Now add the flour (I used leftover Seasoned Flour from yesterday, but I don't think it will matter much in the end) and mix with your hands until the zucchini is coated and there's no flour loose at the bottom of the bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a cast iron or nonstick skillet, and, when hot, pour in the zucchini mixture. Smash and mold it with your hands and a spatula until it is in the shape of a pancake about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick. Cover and let cook on medium heat until the bottom has browned, approximately 5 minutes.

Now turn it. If, as happened to me, the thing begins to fall apart, don't fret. Just cut it into pieces with the spatula and flip those. It's going to be delicious pretty much no matter what you do. Any messiness only makes it more appealing ;-) Cook the other side, uncovered, for another three or four minutes or so, until browned.

When the pancake is cooked, remove it to a separate plate, and add a little more olive oil to the pan, along with the chopped garlic and mint. Let cook for about 1 minute until fragrant, then add the balsamic vinegar. Cook a further 30 seconds, then pour over the pancake. Wonderful!

This was served with a brown rice/tofu/cooked chopped greens/garlic mixture inspired by Deborah Madison's "rice with eggs" recipe topped, as she suggests, with salt and pepper walnuts (hot fresh-roasted walnuts mixed with a little walnut oil and salt and pepper). It was so good.

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