Black Bean Zucchini Pancakes
This recipe is probably the oldest in my repertoire. After returning home from my first year away at college a vegetarian, I was suddenly faced with the task of figuring out how to cook vegetarian meals. At college it was easy – there was a cafeteria and the vegetarian options were always clearly marked with a happy little ‘V’ and I really never thought about what happened between the deliveries of produce and the resulting food on my plate. But that first summer home I realized that restaurants in the midwest were not so accommodating as my liberal arts college in the northeast. The only little ‘V’s I ever found were next to salads. And not even good, exciting salads. Mostly, a midwesterner’s version of a vegetarian salad is a hunk of iceberg lettuce and some vinaigrette. Not to mention the dilemma of eating at home with my family, which even as a too-cool-college-student I was not too cool to forgo most nights. And while my mom was, and is, a great cook, she never was a vegetarian cook. She was wonderfully accommodating though and was always willing to try vegetarian recipes with me while the rest of our family ate steaks and meatloaf and hotdogs. This, I believe, was our first attempt at a vegetarian dinner. To both our shock, these little “pancakes” were both filling and delicious, and to this day almost every time I visit home we make these together.
Black Bean Zucchini Pancakes
Makes about 12 pancakes, serves 4
2 cups zucchini, grated
2 (15oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp. cumin
2 egg whites
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cups whole wheat bread crumbs (or, I prefer to use 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs and a 1/4 cup chickpea flour)
2 cups shredded cabbage
1/8 cup vinegar
1/8 cup oil
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. lime juice
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
sour cream, avocado, salsa, hummus
First, in a medium bowl, mix together your vinegar, olive oil, lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Add your cabbage, toss to coat and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine your beans, eggs, egg whites, garlic and cumin. Mash with a potato masher until the mixture holds together (you’ll still have a bunch of mostly whole beans but there should be a good amount of mushed beans to hold things together). Stir in your zucchini then your bread crumbs. The mixture should be wet and sticky but not loose. If possible, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but as long as overnight.
Heat a splash of oil in a skillet set over medium high heat. When the oil is quite hot, drop large spoonfuls of your batter into the pan and spread them into 4 inch rounds. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, then place on paper towels while making your next batch.
To serve, place a quarter of the marinated cabbage (before plating the cabbage, remove from the marinade with a fork or tongs and shake so as to avoid excess dressing) onto a plate, top with pancakes and garnish with your tomatoes, cilantro and any other additional toppings (pictured here with sour cream).