Memorial Day is the unofficial marker of our transition from Spring into Summer. Now the sun rises early and sets late, giving plants longer hours of solar radiation for photosynthesis and metabolism. The increased photon energy provided by longer days allows for greater glucose sugar production. Naturally, as the plant makes more sugar, it must be allocated for storage. So, to keep up with energy production, the roots of certain species develop to accommodate the glut of glucose and store it as a carbohydrate. Over time this storage unit becomes a viable food crop, which we all enjoy in the form of a carrot or a beet. This trait to store increased energy is not ubiquitous among all species. Normally, it is either something represented in perennial plants, who must survive for a number of years or has been cultivated in annual plants from years of farming. Most plants would prefer to allocate available resources directly towards reproduction and setting a flower head. Eventually the fertilized flower develops into a fruiting body to provide life to a new generation, or to a hungry table. This requires an immense amount of energy, and if the plant has not met a critical mass of photosynthetic capacity, reproduction can stress a plant. So, it is critical that the season is right and the days are long to plant a fruiting crop. As Spring is to green, summer is to color; that color is derived by new growth in root and fruit crops. This week we saw an example the shape and color of early summer food with fresh Zucchini and Carrots.
Fortunately, for most, the introduction to summer is met with an extended weekend. I know how I will spend these long days ahead; sharing food and late afternoon memories with friends to grow our roots deeper.
This is an amended recipe to one I found online for some vegetable latkes (or fritters, whatever you prefer). I must say, this is an easy and delicious way to use seasonal produce, and nothing but seasonal produce. If you go online, there are a lot of iterations of this meal. I went with what worked best for the materials I had on hand. Find what works best for you. But here is a little kick to get you on your way…
Ingredients to serve 4 Latkes:
- 2 small Zucchini, shredded (Groundwork Organics)
- 3-4 medium Carrots, peeled and shredded (Organic Redneck)
- 1 medium Potato, boiled and mashed (Rainshadow Organics)
- 2 cloves of Garlic, minced (Groundwork Organics)
- 1 Green Onion, chopped (Cinco Estrellas)
- 1/4 tsp thyme (Sagestruck Herbary)
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (Rainshadow Organics)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika, or 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or both!)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Half & Half
- Begin by prepping your zucchini and carrots by shredding with a large-holed cheese grader. If you are like me and lack this piece of equipment, this can be done with some dextrous knife work. Transfer veggies to a collander, add the salt and mix. Allow to sit for 15 minutes or so.
- Add the potato to water and boil until soft all of the way through. This can be accomplished more quickly if the potato is quartered beforehand. Remove potato to a bowl, add the half & half and mash.
- Add the Flour and Baking powder to a separate bowl and mix.
- Squeeze the veggies dry, using either just your hands or a cheesecloth, and transfer to a bowl. Add the Garlic, Paprika, Cayenne and Thyme. Mix together. Now add the mashed up potato, mix. Lastly, add the flour/baking powder and mix.
- Once mixed, grab a medium sized handful and pack into a ball, repeat 3 times. Place the uncooked latkes on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes so that they hold form better while cooking.
- Heat up 2 Tbsp of oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add the packed latkes. Cook for 3-5 minutes and turn. They should be slightly charred and crisp when flipped. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Fin!
I did not have the ingredients at my disposal to make an adequate sauce for serving, but these would be amazing served with a yogurt based side. Perhaps yogurt, cucumber and lemon.
This was so easy, so good, and almost 100% local, that it may just become a staple in my diet.