Seasons’ Eatings: Zucchini Patties with Nectarine and Corn Salad
by Jessie Chien
San Jose, CA – It’s summer, and I’m finally back in the United States after nearly two years abroad in China. Though I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything, there’s really no place like home.
My husband and I are both from the Bay Area, so for the next few weeks, before he starts up his job again in Washington D.C., we’re enjoying the blue skies, clean air, and orchard-grown peaches of San Jose, California. Our childhood homes are a two-minute drive apart, so we’ve been shuttling from one set of parents to another, raiding the fridge and the pantry as if we were still in high school.
Every morning we mix the ripest, sweetest peaches and plums into our oatmeal while my father-in-law tells us about the man who sells these fruits, the man who is the namesake of one of the old grocery chains in town, and whose business might die out when his already 70-year old body does. I’ve observed the flowers blossoming from my mom’s zucchini plants in her backyard, amazed that every three days brings a new crop of buds (but no zucchini in sight). We’ve strolled the Saturday farmer’s market at our local junior college, where the kettle corn has popped since I was in high school. We buy the sweetest ears of corn from a guy who I’m convinced is practicing for a stand-up act on Comedy Central. In between eating and tasting things, we’ve also gathered with many of our family and friends. Summer vacation is being good to us.
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When Kara passed along her recipe for a Vegan Zucchini Cake, I was pleasantly surprised that zucchini was still making an appearance after all these weeks. My mind wandered, immediately, to the zucchini plants growing just a few yards away from my computer. I was dead set on making ricotta-stuffed zucchini blossoms, delicately fried and paired with a nectarine and corn salad in honor of my summer here in the Bay Area. But when it came down go-time, I hemmed and hawed over the predictability of the stuffed blossom recipe. The result was a change-up and a new recipe that I’m keeping around for many summers to come – zucchini patties!!
Zucchini Patties with Nectarine and Corn Salad
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: 12 patties; 4-6 servings
- 3 small to medium zucchini, grated
- 1/2 lemon
- 1 large shallot (or 2 small ones)
- 1 ripe nectarine, finely diced
- 1 small plum, finely diced
- 1 large ear white corn, boiled and cooled
- 1 small bunch chervil (10-15 leaves)
- 1 small carrot, finely grated
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup pine nuts, finely chopped
- 4-5 zucchini blossoms, thinly chopped
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper, to taste
- ricotta cheese
- Grate zucchini with the large holes of a grater. Lightly season and set over a double layer of paper towels lined in a colander. The zucchini will start to ‘sweat’, so set aside to drain for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make your peach and corn salsa. Boil one ear of corn, cool, and pat dry. Finely mince 1/2 of a large shallot and combine in a medium bowl with lemon juice and 1 tsp. salt. Finely dice peach and plum, and cut kernels off one ear of corn. Add into bowl and incorporate thoroughly. Coarsely chop chervil and mix in. Cover and set in refrigerator to cool.
- One handful at a time, squeeze excess liquid from zucchini and transfer to a large bowl. Finely grate a carrot, mince the other half of the shallot, and mix with zucchini. To chop pine nuts, pulse in a food processor or spice mill a few times until roughly chopped. Or, use my method, which is to seal in a ziploc bag and pound with a rolling pin for a minute. Add pine nuts, breadcrumbs, eggs, salt and pepper, and mix well. Finely slice zucchini blossoms and mix, then add a dash of olive oil and a few splashes of balsamic vinegar. Taste, and season according to your preferences.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, spoon zucchini mixture into the palm of your hand and form into a small, 2-3 inch patty. The mixture will be fairly wet, but will stay together easily. There should be just about enough to make 12 patties.
- After lining up all the patties, heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. When the oil starts to let off a bit of smoke, turn heat down to medium. Carefully drop zucchini patties into the pan, 4-5 at a time so as to not overcrowd the pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, depending on how hot your oil (and how crispy/burnt you like your patties!).
- Transfer cooked patties to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain/cool.
- On each plate, spoon a hefty dollop of fresh ricotta and season with salt and olive oil. Place a few patties on top, and dress with the peach and corn salad. Enjoy your summer vacation!!!
Jessie Chien is a freelance writer and editor formerly living in Guangzhou China and currently ready to tackle the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. She keeps a diary of her food and travel adventures at www.jessbopeep.com