So on Thursday night, we looked up "zucchini" in the back of Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and found a recipe he calls simply "Vegetable Pancakes." Based on the name, I was expecting something rather like a potato pancake, with shredded veggies loosely bound together with egg and fried. But these were actually more like a traditional breakfast pancake, with a flour-based batter into which the grated veggies are stirred. They cook up on the griddle into thick, puffy cakes, rather like crumpets. These didn't have a lot of flavor by themselves, so we tried them with a huge variety of condiments, including ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, applesauce, pancake syrup, and lingonberry preserves (the traditional accompaniment to Swedish pancakes). The ketchup and the lingonberries seemed to work best, as their combination of sweet and tangy flavors perked up the blandness of the cakes. However, I spent much of the meal meditating about what would really be the ideal compliment to this dish, and also about other possible ways to make them. (Winter squash cakes with apple butter, perhaps?)
All this must have continued percolating in my subconscious for the next day or two, because when Brian asked me this morning what I'd like for breakfast, what popped out of my mouth was, "How about zucchini waffles?"
The idea of cooking the zucchini pancakes in the waffle iron was actually Brian's, though we decided not to try it the first time we made them. And the existing recipe needed very little modification to make it a breakfast dish; all we really did was leave out the onion. Then, since we happened to be out of pancake syrup, I cooked up the idea of an orange syrup to serve them with. (Well, I cooked up the recipe; Brian cooked up the actual syrup.) Since the tangy-sweet condiments had worked best with the savory zucchini cakes we had for dinner, I thought an orange-based sauce might be the ideal topping for them at the breakfast table. I based the recipe on the cider sauce that accompanies the Rosewood Country Inn's "Oven Apple Pancakes" (I forget where I originally found this recipe, but you can see it here).
The combination was...well, I would say surprisingly good. The recipe might still need a little tweaking, as the zucchini makes the batter very moist, even with no added milk, so the waffles don't really stay crisp even in a warm oven. But they were still tasty, and the orange syrup was indeed an excellent foil for their mild flavor—and in early August, any recipe that uses up extra zucchini without being too obvious about it is a good recipe.
So in case you're at all inclined to try this yourself, here is our newly created recipe for Zucchini Waffles with Orange Syrup (with acknowledgements to Mark Bittman and the proprieters of the Rosewood Country Inn):
ZUCCHINI WAFFLESBon appétit, or as we say in New Jersey, Eat Your Zucchini!
1 medium-large zucchini, peeled and finely grated (about 2 cups)
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp oil
Combine everything in a bowl to make the batter. Add milk as needed to thin (we didn't use any). Cook on the waffle iron on medium to high heat. Serve with Orange Syrup.
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. corn starch
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup orange juice
Combine in saucepan and bring to a boil. Continue to cook, stirring, until thickened (about 1-2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in 1 Tbsp. butter.