The Little Corporal
Zucchini Cake Napoleons
I’m squeezing in one last summer recipe before I have to say goodbye until next year.
I love fried patties of any type. But then again, who doesn’t? This recipe reminded me a lot of another zucchini favorite in my arsenal. But what really attracted me to try these was the melty cheese and fresh basil leaves tucked underneath.
I was curious why this was called a napoleon. When I think of Napoleon, I think of the short, beady-eyed, French corporal in the bicorne hat posed with one hand tucked inside his vest . . . or James Heder in coke bottle glasses and awesome moon boots shaking his thang to Jamiroquai. The name, however, has nothing to do with either.
A traditional napoleon is a dessert. It originated in Naples, Italy, as a napolitain – layers of custard cream in between flaky puff pastry. No one is exactly sure how napolitain became napoleon as there is no record that Napoleon ever actually ate one of these. But it seems that the term has since evolved to describe any type of layered dish, whether sweet or savory.
I added my own Southern touch and breaded the patties in cornmeal before frying. Mostly because even though I dried the zucchini and onion to remove any excess water, I still thought the dough was rather wet. The addition of the cornmeal was a good decision. The cakes came out light and crispy. The cheese was gooey and the fresh peppery taste of the basil gave it an unexpected twist. Leave out the bacon, and you have a perfect vegetarian meal.
Zucchini Cake Napoleons
- 4 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 large zucchini)
- ½ cup shredded onion
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3-4 slices uncooked bacon
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup crunched cheesed-flavored crackers (such as Cheez-Its)
- 1-1/2 cups yellow cornmeal.
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced into ¼ inch thick rounds
- 1 large tomato, sliced
- Fresh basil leaves
- Place shredded zucchini and onion in a salad spinner. Sprinkle with kosher salt and let mixture stand 30 minutes to allow the water to draw out. Spin mixture to remove as much excess water as possible. Then transfer to a kitchen towel or several layers of paper towels to remove any additional water.
- Cook bacon in a medium skillet over medium high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet using a slotted spoon and reserve remaining bacon drippings.
- In a separate bowl, mix together egg, garlic, Italian seasoning, and baking powder. Add in zucchini mixture and cracker crumbs. Measure out about ⅓ cup of the dough and form into a patty. Repeat until you have made about eight patties.
- Pour cornmeal into a shallow bowl. Coat patties on both sides with the cornmeal.
- Preheat oven to 170 degrees.
- Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the reserved bacon drippings. Heat oil over medium high heat. Gently place cakes into the oil and fry until golden brown on the outside, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer cakes to a plate lined with paper towels. Add additional oil as needed during frying.
- Once the zucchini cakes have drained, place the cakes on a cookie sheet and top with a slice of mozzarella. Place in the oven and warm just until the cheese has melted, about five minutes.
- To assemble, place one cheese-topped zucchini cake on a plate. Layer with a tomato slice and then one or two basil leaves. Repeat layers, ending with a zucchini cake. Garnish with a basil leaf if desired.