Vegetables and Trickery

I had absolutely no plans for Friday night dinner. I vaguely thought we’d pick up something ready to go for dinner and relished the absolute lack of planning. While in the car, we made a pit stop at the Farmer’s Market in Sheffield, MA, in search of inspiration for our meal. I was conscious not to be tempted by the wares on display and splurge the night before our CSA Pick-up, and focus only on the meal at hand. I also knew what we had in the house

  • 1 v large zucchini
  • 1/4 head of cabbage
  • Potatoes galore
  • Eggs

Pretty limited selection, I know. We picked up a few ears of corn from a trusted farmer and had hopes that it would be tastier than last week’s. Hubs and I talked over a tomato salad and looked around for some, but only “paste tomatoes” were on display.  Still early in the season, said Dominic and his crew from Moon in the Pond Farm. A vague idea started forming in my mind about zucchini fritters or some kind of veg pancake. I suggested it to Hubs and he looked nonplussed.

I hit the books when we got home and offered a few suggestions based on an old copy of Bon Appetit and my handy How to Cook Everything Vegetarian cookbok by, you guessed it, my food idol Mark Bittman. I suggested this recipe for Shaved Zucchini with Parmesan and Pine Nuts to Hubs. He scoffed – too obvious a use of zucchini, a verboten vegetable. I then suggested some fritter recipes and we settled on Korean Style Crispy Vegetable Pancakes. The fact that the recipe name contained the words “pancake” and “crispy” helped sell it.

Vegetable Trickery: Korean Style Crispy Vegetable Pancake

I followed the recipe with the exception of using rice flour, which I didn’t have on a hand. I halved the recipe and it made 2 large pancakes. My first pancake did not turn out as crispy and I considered it my “tester” pancake, a phrase coined by Hubs. The second pancake is pictured above. I used about a cup of shredded zucchini, a healthy handful of thinly shredded cabbage, as well as a carrot, scallions and chives from the garden.

So that’s where the trickery comes in. You couldn’t individually identify the zucchini or cabbage, but they were in there. On their own, these ingredients would never fly in our house, but mixed into a dish with the word “pancake” in it, I could get away with it. There are a bunch of food writers out there proposing recipes like this all the time, especially for kids.  Things like stashing sweet potatoes in muffins, not to name names [Jessica Seinfeld], but I’m generally not a proponent of this method. I want ingredients to shine and for the people I’m cooking for to know what they are eating. But I mention it here because you could put almost any veg in this dish, serve it with dipping sauce and it would be roundly praised.

Scallion Ginger dipping sauce

Final word from Hubs: “Pretty good for an impromptu meal.” I would definitely make the Crispy Pancakes again, using rice flour as Bittman recommends. We also had corn on the cob and some mixed greens. The corn was sweet and succulent, with even rows of ears. As it should be.

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