Leek, Potato, and Zucchini Pancakes

I am a self-confessed veggie nerd. Growing up, my mom never had a problem getting me to eat everything from broccoli to eggplant. I wasn’t a picky child at all. In fact, pretty much the only thing I wouldn’t eat was a McDonald’s hamburger. Now I know why. Good call, five year old me. You would think that would make me a dream child, right? Then, enter my teenage girl years, during which there was enough door slamming, name calling, and eye rolling to far offset any previous form of good behavior. (Sorry, Mom!)

Luckily, I grew out of that phase, but still love my veggies. Unsurprisingly, I get really excited to break open my produce boxes during this time of the year. The other week, I received some beautiful leeks and racked my brain trying to figure out what recipe would do them justice. I finally decided on a recipe for leek, potato, and zucchini pancakes from NYT–the perfect springtime meal. My changes include a pinch of cayenne pepper, creme fraiche or sour cream for serving, and nuking the potato in the microwave instead of baking them in the oven to cut down on time.

As it turns out, leeks are all the rage this week! Check out Smitten Kitchen’s leek toasts with blue cheese and NYT’s green garlic, potato, and leek soup.

Leek, Potato, and Zucchini PancakesΒ 
Adapted from New York Times

Yield: 2 servings

  • 1 medium russet potato (8 ounces)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 whole leeks, white and light green parts, sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch-wide pieces (to make about 4 cups), and thoroughly rinsed
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Creme fraiche or sour cream for serving (optional)
  1. Pierce potato with fork a couple of times, place on microwave safe plate, and microwave for 4-5 minutes until tender. Set aside to cool.
  2. Place zucchini in a bowl and sprinkle lightly with salt. Let sit for 10 minutes. (You can move on to the next step while you are waiting) Place the zucchini in a dishtowel or cheesecloth and twist firmly and repeatedly to remove excess moisture. Set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add leeks and cook until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Strain. Place the leeks in a dishtowel or cheesecloth and twist firmly and repeatedly to remove excess moisture. Set aside.
  4. Peel potato, discarding the skin, and shred on the large holes of a box grater.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the potato, leeks, zucchini, 1 egg, 1/4 cup flour, pinch of cayenne pepper, 1/3 cup cheese and 2 tablespoons parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix well. In a large skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons oil and heat until shimmering. Measure 1/4 cup of the leek and potato mixture and form into a patty about 2/3 of an inch thick. Repeat with the remainder of the mixture.
  6. Working in batches, if necessary, fry the cakes, flattening them with a spatula, until they are golden brown on each side, 4 to 5 minutes a side. Set aside and keep warm. Serve with creme fraiche or sour cream.
Slice the leeks into thin slices about 1/8″ thick. To clean, fill a big bowl with water and submerge all the sliced leeks. Lift the leeks out of the bowl with your hands and place in a separate clean bowl. All the dirt and nasty bits should fall to the bottom of the water bowl. Rinse the water bowl; fill with more water; and repeat until leeks are clean.
Lightly salting the grated zuc will force the excess moisture out of it, thus preventing soggy pancakes. Yay!
Blanching the leeks before they go into the pancakes will help bring out their flavor.
Using your hands, mold your mixture into approximately 1/4 cup patties of deliciousness.
Fry the pancakes on a cast iron skillet over medium heat. This will take about 4-5 minutes on each side.
Enjoy with some creme fraiche or sour cream on the side!
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