Looking for different ways to utilize all those wonderful garden
cucumbers and zucchinis this summer? The chefs at The Culinary
Institute of America (CIA) have a delicious suggestion: crispy
zucchini pancakes with a yogurt and cucumber sauce that the Greeks
refer to as tzatziki sauce. Throughout the Eastern Mediterranean,
tzatziki is considered both as a salad as well as a sauce.
Cucumbers are one of the oldest cultivated vegetables and are
believed to have been native to India. Extremely popular in Europe
during the late 1400s, the vegetable was brought over to the New
World by Columbus. Available in many varieties—ranging from
pickling and slicing cucumbers to those that are yellow in
color—the cucumber has a refreshing texture and taste that makes it
well-suited to warm summer weather.
According to the Oxford Companion to Food, Zucchini is
the Italian and American name for what the French and many
English-speaking people call courgettes d'Italie, a
variety of Cucurbita squash that is developed to harvest
when relatively small, around 3 to 4 inches. The name zucchini
stuck because the Italians were the first to market the vegetable
in the small size. First introduced to the U.S. by Italian
immigrants, the vegetable gained popularity and can be found today
in many of our gardens and dishes.
"The pancakes below feature feta cheese and chopped walnuts to
punctuate the relatively mild taste of the zucchini in these crispy
fritters," says CIA Chef Lynne Gigliotti. "The yogurt-and-cucumber
sauce adds richness to the pancakes, cools the heat from fiery
curries, and can also be served on its own as a salad. And for all
of you who have had enough pickles and zucchini bread for the year,
this dish is a great way to try something new.
The following recipes are explained and illustrated in The
Culinary Institute of America Cookbook (Lebhar-Friedman 2008), which is available for purchase at bookstores nationwide.