Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Zucchini herb yogurt cake

I have been suffering from a surfeit of zucchini lately. Not from eating too much zucchini, just from having too many zucchini and not knowing what to do with them!

Ever since the zucchini started appearing at the markets, I can't keep my hands off them. I've been buying 2 or 3 a week, which may not seem like a lot, but for one person who already has plenty of other food at home, it certainly adds up.

And of course, I can't make the same zucchini dish over and over again, so I've had to keep coming up with new ways of using the little guys! I've made zucchini fritters, zucchini sautéed with pasta, zucchini baked with pasta, zucchini stuffed with feta, zucchini stuffed with lamb - just about the only thing I haven't made is zucchini ice cream. An interesting idea actually, but that will be for another day...

This cake started out in my mind as a set of zucchini herb muffins. Upon realizing I didn't have any muffin tins, I had to change course. After mulling over various possibilities, I decided that a savory cake - a sort of cross between zucchini bread and a zucchini quiche - would be a nice thing to try and a good way to use up both some zucchini and some of my fresh herbs, of which I also buy wayyyy too many (the bottom shelf of my refrigerator is currently stuffed full of basil, mint, dill, sage, and thyme which I'm sure will all dry out before I can ever use them up).

Considering the number of things I make that don't turn out at all the way I had envisioned them, this cake came shockingly close to what I had planned. Light, fresh, and very herby, it's a great summertime snack or appetizer.

2 small zucchini or 1 very large one
2 or 3 scallions (green onions)
A large bunch of fresh dill
A large bunch of fresh mint
125 g. all-purpose flour
A small spoonful of baking soda
A smaller spoonful of salt
125 g. yogurt
50 g. kasseri cheese (a Greek/Turkish cheese made from unpasteurized sheep's milk. If you can't find any, substitute with a semi-hard cheese of your choosing, but I think the flavor of kasseri is perfect for this cake - a stronger cheese would be overwhelming)
A few spoonfuls of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 160º C / 355º F. Wash the zucchini, trim the ends, and chop them into thin rondelles. Wash the scallions and chop them finely. Heat a large sauté pan, add olive oil, and then add the zucchini and the scallions. Let cook on medium heat about 10 minutes, until zucchini are tender. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Wash the mint and dill and chop them up very finely. In a large bowl, sift together the flour with the baking soda and salt.

Grease a cake pan with olive oil. You could also use a loaf pan, to make the cake appear more bread-like - whatever you have available should be fine.

Lightly beat the eggs, and grate the cheese into the eggs. Working rather quickly, add the zucchini & scallions, the yogurt, the herbs, the eggs, the cheese, and the olive oil into the flour mixture. Mix together with a spoon just until the ingredients are combined. Immediately pour into the cake pan and place in the oven.

Let bake about 15 minutes, until a fork inserted in the cake comes out clean. Let cool and serve at room temperature, or refrigerate until serving later.

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