Three Tips to Cure a Peak Summer Cooking Rut (Zucchini Feta Pancake Recipe Included)

Every mid-July, I hit a culinary rut. An odd confession, I realize, given that right now fresh garden fare is edging on peak abundance and gifts me with a daily cornucopia of seasonal produce for ingredients. But as the zucchini harvest piles up on the kitchen counter this time of year, I feel a bit overwhelmed and uninspired. I crave a fresh cooking groove.

However, I’ve learned that just like any artist needs to at times rekindle a creative muse, we foodies too need a dose of cooking inspiration, especially during this time when we have a bounty of fresh fare to savor.

Here are three tips I’ve discovered for shaking up a peak summer cooking rut, followed by a summer breakfast classic we serve at our Wisconsin B&B, Inn Serendipity: Zucchini Feta Pancakes, that will cure any summer cooking rut that ails you:

1. Flip Savory and Sweet

Twist the expected menu and serve a familiar item category a new way. For example, most folks expect pancake to be bread-like and sweet, swimming in a pool of syrup.

These Zucchini Feta Pancakes provide a savory alternative to traditional pancake fare, served “naked” with no syrup or toppings needed. While we serve these for breakfast at Inn Serendipity, you could readily serve them for a quick supper.

2. Add a Strong Companion Flavor

Adding in a distinct, unexpected flavor to a dish also perks up the palette. The feta cheese in these pancakes enhances the flavor in an unusual, distinct manner. I’m fortunate where I life in Southwest Wisconsin as I’m in the Mecca of cheese making, including the award-winning Odyssey-brand feta cheese, made by the Buholzer family at the Klondike Cheese Factory in Monroe, Wisconsin.

3. Blend in Fresh Company

Sometimes it isn’t the ingredients or the recipe that grows a bit stale; it’s the company around the table. Just like you sometimes need a fresh recipe, add a dose of newness around the table and share the summer garden abundance by inviting someone new over to share a meal. Living in a B&B environment, I’m blessed with a near daily dose of new interesting and inspiring people coming through my kitchen, providing the ultimate in keeping life fresh.

These Zucchini Feta Pancakes are from our B&B cookbook, Edible Earth: Savoring the Good Life with Vegetarian Recipes from Inn Serendipity. Another reason to savor these now is, after a few rounds of winter experimentation using frozen zucchini, I’ve come to the culinary conclusion that these pancakes taste best with fresh summer squash.

Zucchini Feta Pancakes


4 eggs, separated

4 c. shredded zucchini

1 c. finely crumbled feta cheese

½ c. finely chopped green onions

1 T. fresh of 1 t. dried mint

½ t. salt

½ c. all-purpose flour

Oil for frying


* Combine everything except egg whites and oil. Mix well.

* Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into batter mixture.

* Heat oil until very hot. Drop about 1/8 cup batter for each pancake. Cook on both sides until crisp.

* Serve immediately.

Photo credit:  Lisa Kivirist

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About the Author

Lisa Kivirist embodies the growing “ecopreneuring” movement: innovative entrepreneurs who successfully blend business with making the world a better place. Lisa is co-author, with her husband, John Ivanko, of Rural Renaissance: Renewing the Quest for the Good Life, capturing the American dream of farm living for contemporary times. Her latest release, ECOpreneuring: Putting Purpose and the Planet Before Profits is a compact, dynamic tool kit for a fresh approach to entrepreneurial thinking, blending passion for protecting and preserving the planet with small business pragmatics. As a W.K. Kellogg Food & Society Policy Fellow and Director of the Rural Women's Project, Lisa champions a voice for women farmers and rural ecopreneurs through media, speaking and advocacy work. Lisa runs the award-winning Inn Serendipity Bed and Breakfast in southwest Wisconsin, completely powered by renewable energy and considered amongst the “Top Ten Eco-Destinations in North America.” Her culinary focus on local and seasonal cuisine – with most ingredients traveling less than 100 feet from her organic gardens to B&B plates – earned recognition in publications from Vegetarian Times to Country Woman and inspired her cookbook, Edible Earth: Savoring the Good Life with Vegetarian Recipes from Inn Serendipity. In addition to feature writing for publications such as Hobby Farm Home, Mother Earth News and Wisconsin Trails, Lisa is the lead writer for Renewing the Countryside, a non-profit organization showcasing rural entrepreneurial and agricultural success stories. Lisa also penned Kiss Off Corporate America: A Young Professional’s Guide to Independence. Lisa shares her farm with her husband, their young son, a 10kw wind turbine and a colony of honeybees.
  • I am definitely in a cooking rut as well…and it makes me reach out for unhealthy alternatives! I might have to make these for dinner this week. They look amazing. So, you think squash will be good with them?

  • Thanks, Kate. These pancakes are an excellent way to use summer squash. I’ve made them with all sorts of varietals: Eight Balls, Patty Pans, Crooked necks . . a combo of green and yellow squash adds a nice dose of color. Enjoy!

  • Sarah

    These are almost the same as the zucchini fritters we used to eat in Turkey for mezes. Yum. Thanks for the recipe.

  • MB

    The recipe states “combine everything but the toppings” but does not identify the toppings. Can we get a clarification/edit here?

  • Thanks, MB. Correction made. I used to serve these with “toppings” such as sour cream or yogurt but, frankly, they really don’t need anything.