zucchini-fennel patties with tahini + chives dip

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One day I’d like to have one of those backyard parties, the kind Northern California friends used to have when I lived out there for college and space (at least outside of San Francisco) stretched long and wide.

It would go a bit like this: smashed raspberry mojitos. Loud music and singing in hoarse voices. A good, oozing, summer pie, too excited to be served up with a ball of vanilla bean ice cream, would be baking away in the oven. We’d eat tacos and salads of cantaloupe and avocado dripped all over with lemon and flaky salt…

and there would be patties of beef and then, of summer squash, like these, sizzling happily in a hot pan.

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In New York City, we’re taken to rooftops for these kinds of gatherings, or swept under tall trees in Central Park, ducking to nibble grilled corn on the cob in a crowded section of grass that’s tickling the toes of a couple so close that they’ve practically leaned in for a kiss to share your picnic blanket.
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In New York, city apartments claim wiry fire-escapes as balconies.
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In Paris, old men smoked cigarettes from narrow terraces  only ever meant for one.
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My New York apartment building calls a patch of concrete it’s backyard — which is actually located in the front of the building — and is not at all fenced in. I guess you would know what I’m talking about if I called it by its real name: sidewalk, public, plain and simple with someone else’s initials scrawled into it before it has dried. It’s certainly not a yard ’round back.
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But a girl can dream.
And honestly, smoky, dreamy French balconies and (Californian) suburban backyards with weathered wooden white swings aside, I do love me some city. And when I want to, I can take to a Sunday farmer’s market with strappy sandals whose soles know the subway too well.
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But back to squash.
Did I tell you I have a soft spot for warm weather squash?

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Vegetable patties are sometimes made more complicated with add-ins like, starchy shredded potato or breadcrumbs. This one isn’t.
In fact, as much as I enjoy fried potatoes, lately, I’ve been tempted by flavors that are clean and simple. I’ve made a like-minded zucchini-forward pattie that is fresh and focused, crisp with a bit of fennel. Try them with thick Greek yogurt dip that’s got a hint of tahini. The original dip recipe adds a bit of water and garlic for a thinner sauce. I sprinkled mine with little a jive of green chive snips (recipe below) for something a little bit brighter and then feta cheese.
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For zucchini-fennel patties:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 medium-sized zucchini
  • 1/2 bulb fennel
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

For tahini-scallion dip (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem):

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2-3 tablespoons tahini paste
  • 1 tablespoon scallions, chopped
  • fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Using a grater, shred zucchini and fennel into a collander and set aside over a bowl or the sink to drain. If you have cheesecloth on hand, you can speed up this process by putting zucchini and fennel shreds onto the cloth and then twisting it up into a ball to squeeze out water over the sink.

In a large bowl, mix zucchini and fennel with flour, egg, garlic, lemon, red pepper flakes salt and pepper to taste. Using an ice cream scoop or your fingers, scoop up zucchini-fennel mixture and form small 2-3″ patties. Sprinkle a plate or other smooth, clean surface with cornmeal then gently roll each patty in the cornmeal until lightly coated.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Cook patties at medium heat, about 4-6 minutes, flipping halfway to brown both sides.

Serve warm with tahini dip and crumbled feta cheese.

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2 thoughts on “zucchini-fennel patties with tahini + chives dip

    • @Vegetarian in Vegas: There’s no better time to try whipping new dips to go with all kinds of veggies, cooked or raw, than spring! I think you’ll really enjoy some of the unexpected flavor blends in the book as well. Have fun :)

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