Saturday, July 17, 2010

Potato Zucchini Cakes with Coconut Sauce

Despite choosing “potato” as the primary word for this recipe, this idea was all about the squash. I love my weekly share provided by Desert Roots Farm. There is nothing like a ripe batch of yellow pear tomatoes, freshly plucked green onions, or perfectly small apples to brighten up a Saturday morning when I pick up my bag of joy. Always surprise. Always inspiring. But right now - always a huge load of squash. My goodness, I had heard of squash being a long-lasting and high volume nuisance in the sense that you can’t make it stop growing once it springs from the ground. It’s hard to find ways to use it all and still be creative. I have 9 crooknecks waiting patiently in my crisper for that stroke of genius to hit – the moment where I discover a way to make summer squash pudding or sorbet perhaps.

This recipe may not have been a stroke of genius, but it does involve fusion. Thanks to my latest enthusiasm for the Indian realm of vegan cooking, inspiration is easier to find. I’m really into the flavors we learned in class at Indika in Houston and am determined to apply lessons instead of forgetting them. In class, my other half and I made a particularly scrumptious batch of Potato Cakes stuffed with Coconut Chutney, and I felt some serious pride in the final results. Most class members seemed to be impressed, but we had chef supervision and a commercial kitchen at our disposal. How am I to know if these lessons are effective if I don’t recreate at home? So my goal with this recipe was not to duplicate the original, but to make something using it as a foundation with my own interpretive twist.

While ideas for recipes often have far too many potential directions, this one was dead set on the concept of Indian cooking lessons using zucchini. I am now confident that my lessons will not be temporary or wasted – the cakes were delicious. The sauce was a risk and there will be many more versions. I only used mushrooms this time because of a sad portabella hanging out with some saggy gills. Maybe red peppers in the sauce next time? Maybe take the fennel out of the cakes and put it in the sauce? You tell me. But try it.

Potato Zucchini Cakes with Coconut Sauce
Makes 4-6 cakes
Prep time: 20-30 minutes
Cook time: 6-8 minutes


Potato Cakes
3-4 Red potatoes, boiled/steamed* & grated1 c. Zucchini or yellow summer squash, grated
1/3 c. Onion, minced
1/3 c. Breadcrumbs, homemade or store-bought
1 ½ T. Ginger, minced
1 ½ T. Garlic, minced
1 T. Jalapeno, minced
½ tsp Ground cumin
½ tsp Fennel seed
½ tsp Salt
Canola oil for pan frying

Coconut Sauce
1 tsp. Canola oil
¾ c. Mushrooms, minced (optional)
½ T. Garlic, minced
½ T. Ginger, minced
¼ tsp Salt
2/3 c. Coconut milk, light or regular
1 tsp Cornstarch + 2 T. Water

For protein: 1 c. Mung beans or lentils, cooked
For garnish: ½ c. Red bell pepper, finely diced

*When you cook the potatoes, be careful not to over cook them. Otherwise these will be less like latkes and more nuggets. Which might be ok with you. It might be ok with me too. Also be careful not to undercook them or the cakes won’t hold together. It’s not as hard as it sounds.


For the Potato Cakes: In a medium bowl, combine the all ingredients and adjust the seasoning to taste. Working with 2-3 inch pieces in hand, form mixture into patties. Add breadcrumbs if mixture isn’t sticking well. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and fill up to ¼ inch with cooking oil. Use a piece of scrap or stray veggie to test the readiness of the oil – if the oil bubbles excitingly over the tester scrap, it’s ready. Place cakes in the pan and cook on each side until edges are brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. Set cakes aside on a plate lined with a couple of paper towels to pat them dry.

For the Coconut Sauce: Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and add mushrooms (if using), garlic, ginger and salt. Cook until mushrooms are very tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add coconut milk and cornstarch mixture. Cook until just starting to thicken, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

To assemble: Place 2-3 potato cakes on each plate and cover each serving with half of the beans (if using). Drizzle coconut sauce over cakes and garnish with red pepper.


  1. Oh my YUM! I didn't have any breadcrumbs, so tapioca did the trick. I also didn't have any coconut milk, so I sauteed some portabella mushroom slices by themselves. They were delicious - good call on the fennel seed! Thank you for sharing!

  2. I have yet to try tapioca, but that sounds awesome! I remember Anita saying that's what she used to use, I'm intrigued.