Two events coincided to provide the opportunity for me to create this recipe. Being two and a half weeks into my $200 grocery month challenge (see a future post on this), I’m digging deep into the freezer these days. Recently my hunt yielded a bag of frozen, cooked rice. Couple that with the fact that my miracle zucchini plant is still producing more than 5 medium to large zucchinis each week, and you get zucchini rice cakes! They are nutritious (especially if you use brown rice, which I didn’t because that’s not what was in my freezer), frugal, delicious and very versatile.
I leaned Asian in the seasonings this time, but you could easily substitute basil and balsamic vinegar for the ginger and soy sauce to create a more Italian flavor. Or oregano and lemon zest to lend it a Greek taste. Equally, you could use a different vegetable. I think minced broccoli, chard, or spinach would all work well. As the season changes and my garden starts producing those vegetables instead of zucchini I will give them a try, too, and report back on how they fared.
There are two basic ways to grate the zucchini: with a box grater and a food processor. I use both, depending on how much I need to grate and whether my son is under foot and needs a project. (He likes feeding the zucchini into the food processor chute and pushing it down with the tamper.)
There are also two options for removing the excess liquid from the grated zucchini. The slow method is to place it in a towel-lined colander and sprinkle with salt. Let it sit for 1 hour or longer to draw out the moisture. If you don’t have that kind of time, simply wrap the grated zucchini in a clean kitchen (or sturdy paper) towel and squeeze the excess liquid out. Both work well. The cooking time listed below reflects the faster method. Add an hour to the total preparation time if you go the passive moisture removal route.
These are delicious hot, cold and room temperature. We ate them with soy sauce and a simple lentil salad and called it dinner. As an alternative, you could treat it like an Australian burger and place a fried egg on top. I would consider these complete, albeit light, meals, but you could easily serve these alongside a heartier main dish featuring meat or fish.
Time: 35 minutes (mostly hands-on time, but you’ll have time to clean up while the cakes are cooking)
Yield: ~10 cakes
2c (or less) cooked rice, I used white
1 medium to large zucchini (3/4 lb)
¼ onion, grated
1 garlic clove, grated
½ t ginger, grated
1-2t soy sauce
3 shakes garlic salt (Goya)
4T oil (canola, peanut or olive)
1. Grate zucchini. Remove excess moisture using your method of choice.
2. Whisk eggs in a large bowl and then add zucchini and rice. Grate onion, garlic and ginger directly into the bowl. Add remaining ingredients except oil. Stir well to combine, breaking up any clumps of rice as needed.
3. Heat 2-3T oil in large fry pan on medium-high. When oil is hot, scoop 1/4c of mixture into the pan and flatten with the back of the measuring cup until about 3” across. Repeat 2-3 times leaving room to flip rice cakes. Cook approximately 3 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown. Flip, and once cakes are cooked on both sides remove to a plate. Repeat with remaining mixture. The recipe should make 3 batches or about 10 cakes in total.
4. Serve with soy sauce or other condiment as a side dish or vegetarian main course.
Note: We didn’t have any leftover, but I’m sure these would freeze well as I have frozen similar patties before. Lay flat in a single or double layer (at most) in a large freezer bag. Thaw slowly in the fridge to eat cold. To eat hot, defrost and pan fry or microwave from frozen.