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Twice as Tasty

Zucchini-Basil Pancakes

These pancakes have become a summer staple at my house, when I can harvest zucchini and basil almost daily and the heat makes light, quickly cooked meals appealing

By Julie Laing
Zucchini-Basil Pancakes. Photo by Julie Laing

Even if you don’t grow zucchini, you’ve likely heard how prolific the plants can be. A single plant can easily produce several pounds of the vegetable, leading to tales of zucchini left anonymously on front porches and in mailboxes of neighbors.

Grocery stores typically stock a dark green zucchini variety year-round, but home gardens and local farmers can have so many other choices, from striped long or round zucchini to crookneck or straight yellow summer squash. Small zucchini, only about 6 to 8 inches long, have the best flavor and texture, making them ideal for grilling and  pickling. But amid the plant’s dense foliage, missed squash can grow to baseball bat size with large seeds. These giants are still edible but taste better when grated and worked them into a recipe, like multiple batches of these pancakes.

These pancakes have become a summer staple at my house, when I can harvest zucchini and basil almost daily and the heat makes light, quickly cooked meals appealing. I make them in winter too, using grated, frozen zucchini and homemade basil pesto that was frozen into cubes. The pancakes’ flavor is so versatile that they’re delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner with a sprinkling of cheese and fried egg, tomatillo salsa or creamy guacamole, a fresh tomato salad, spicy shrimp and aioli.

Zucchini-Basil Pancakes

Makes 6 pancakes

1 medium zucchini (about 1 cup when grated)

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 egg

3/4 cup zucchini liquid and/or water

Green tops from 1 onion or 2 scallions, sliced

1/4 cup fresh basil, slivered

Sunflower or other oil with a high smoking point for cooking

Set the oven or toaster oven to warm; place a heatproof plate inside. Stack a bowl, colander and a large-holed cheese grater, and then grate the zucchini, allowing the colander to catch the solids and the bowl to catch the liquid. Gently squeeze the grated zucchini to separate as much liquid as possible, letting it sit to drain.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt. Beat the egg in a measuring cup, and then beat in enough collected zucchini liquid and/or water to equal 1 cup. Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients, mixing to make a batter. Fold in the zucchini, onion tops and basil until combined.

Heat an 8-inch skillet over medium heat, add a bit of sunflower oil, and swirl the pan to coat the bottom. Spoon about 1/3 cup of batter into the pan, and use the back of a fork to spread it evenly over the entire pan bottom. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the top surface starts to form bubbles and become firm, and then flip the pancake; the underside should be lightly browned. Cook 2 minutes more, and then slide the pancake onto the warmed plate. Continue cooking the remaining pancakes in the same way, oiling the pan before each pancake.

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