Better Living Through Local Foods
Like most people, one of my favorite things to do with zucchini involves baking: zucchini bread, zucchini gratins and casseroles, carrot-zucchini muffins and especially chocolate zucchini bread. But we’ve had some super hot weather this summer, just in time for the bounty of zucchini, so I had to come up with some different ideas. Luckily my dear friend Sue not only has a spectacular garden and shares an interest in cooking seasonal foods from scratch, but she also gave me some black bean zucchini burgers I got the recipe for, and on top of that, she brought over a nice big container of shredded and drained fresh zucchini! What a gift. I felt like one of those TV chefs who has someone else do all the labor, while they assemble the luscious finished product with ease.
For the black bean patties, I decided to finish them with a fresh mango salsa since I had two super ripe ones hanging around. Not truly local, those mangoes, but I used fresh local cilantro from Bay End Farm in Buzzards Bay and fresh peppers from the Marshfield Farmer’s Market’s Oakdale farm.
Black Bean Zucchini Burgers
(Makes 4, I doubled!)
15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium zucchini, shredded (about 2 full cups)
¼ cup oat flour (you can use wheat or bread crumbs)
1 t salt
½ t pepper
1 t cumin powder
½ t garlic powder, to taste
I added one chopped fresh jalepeno, no seeds (feel free to omit)
1 T olive oil
Place washed and drained beans in a medium sized bowl. Using any kind of masher you have, crush the beans until they from a paste. (This takes a bit of doing with the potato masher I have.) Lay out 2 paper towels and shred the zucchinis on the paper towels, lay 2 more on top and drain or soak out the moisture. Repeat process until they no longer release moisture and add to the black beans. (or you can try Kevin’s method, below. Thank you Sue for doing all of this for me!) Add to the black beans, along with oats, flour or bread crumbs (not all 3, just whichever you have.) Then add egg, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder, and finely chopped jalapeño if using. Using hands, combine all ingredients evenly; add more flour or bread crumbs if too wet. (Mine seemed pretty wet even at the end, but cooked up beautifully in the oil.)
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet. Create patties about ¼ to ½ inch thick and cook over medium high heat until brown, about 5-8 minutes and then flip and cook until brown on other side.
Serve warm on burger buns or just free-standing with salsa or condiment of your choice. I didn’t use buns for mine, but I kept them in a glass container in the refrigerator and had them, heated, for lunch a few times this week! When I ran out of my mango salsa, I used a store-bought green salsa which was also wonderful.
2 ripe mangoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
Juice of one fresh lime
2-3 T chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalepeno pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
3-4 T of finely diced red onion
1 red or green pepper (red looks prettier if you have it), chopped finely
Salt, to taste
Dash of cayenne pepper if you want more heat
For the mangoes, cut each ½ around the large middle seed and then dice up the 2 sides, removing the peel. Combine everything in a small bowl, and, folks, there’s no way around this: taste for seasoning to see if it needs more lime, more salt or heat.
Spoon copious amounts of salsa over the hot bean burgers.
For my next endeavor, (I still had more of that pre-shredded fresh zucchini), I made Zuchinni fritters using Kevin Lee Jacobs recipe from A Garden for the House. (Readers may remember his garlic scape recipe.
Ingredients for 15-20 2-3 inch fritters (okay, some of mine were bigger…)
4 medium zucchini or 4 cups shredded
2 t kosher salt plus 1/4 t for seasoning
1 T finely chopped chives
Grated zest and juice of one lemon
2 large eggs, beaten
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 t baking powder
Sour cream or whole milk greek yogurt (I always have whole milk greek yogurt in my house and never sour cream, so I used the yogurt.)
Chive blossoms, or snips of fresh chives for garnish.
(I love Kevin’s recipes, because the garnish matters!)
1. Preparing and shredding the zucchini (Most people don’t have a prep cook, I know)
Slice both ends off the squash, then cut it cross wise in half, then cut each half lengthwise. Shred the pieces in a food processor fitted with a shredding disk. Pour the shreds into a bowl and sprinkle with 2 t of the kosher salt. Toss with hands and then let sit for 10 minutes.
Pour a glug of olive oil into a heavy (cast iron if you have it) skillet and heat over medium.
2. Grab a handful of the shred, give it a squeeze, and then put it in a clean kitchen towel. Twist and squeeze the towel over the sink to remove most of the water. Pour squash into the bowl and repeat the process for the remaining shreds.
3. Into the squash bowl stir 1/4 tsp salt, several grinds of black pepper, 1/4 tsp lemon zest, and the chopped chives. Then stir in the beaten eggs.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda and add to the zucchini mixture, stirring just enough to incorporate the flour.
5.Then using hands scoop out a small sized clump of dough and gently set into heated oil. Place as many fritters as will fit into the pan, making sure to leave small space between each fritter. Fry for 4-5 minutes, until the underside is golden, flip frying for another couple minutes until done. Drain on Paper towels.
Keep them warm in a 200 degree oven if not serving immediately.
I made a quick dipping sauce with 1 cup of whole milk yogurt, zest of lemon and juice of one lemon and more chopped chives. Delish! I know it’s a lot of frying, but so worth it.
Katherine Rossmoore is a health and wellness coach, food lover, yoga teacher and writer. Find her at www.betterlivingthroughfoods.com or “like” her on Facebook Better Living Through Foods Health Coaching.