When we go to a Greek or Turkish restaurant, one of the first things I look for are zucchini fritters. The amazingness of latkes merged with the tastiness of zucchini, these treats are the star of any vegetarian meal. In a past pescetarian life, my favorite dish was crabcakes. My family knew that if it was on the menu, I would try it- forever in search of the perfect crab cake. It was the one dish I missed. However, I realized that zucchini fritters are a similar texture, but have a superior taste. Aha! The best crabcake is a zucchini fritter!
Typical me- I was scared of making them. I am sure, unless I am the lone crazy person that maintains a scaredy list, you have your own list of foods that seem too complex to surmount. In the end, I became tired of eating these every time they are on the menu, why not try them at home so that I can learn about new foods when I go out? So of course, like any reasonable person, I decided to tackle the recipe for Christmas dinner with my in-laws. Don’t worry, I kept a backup supply of fancy ravioli in the freezer, just in case we had an emergency. In order to prep, I read three recipes on fritters, and merged together my own magic recipe. I used the picture from Smitten Kitchen to inspire, the ingredient listing from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and a random blog about cooking Turkish food for the technique. A recipe of my own developed, but the research gave a perfect foundation. Finally, I went through the recipe with a methodical approach. This helped me make sure I didn’t miss any vital pieces of information. Seems like I am finally taking the advice I give my students.
A few things about what I learned, despite what recipes say, the fritters are best hot and not reheated. Something happens to the flour that makes it a bit spongy. So, this is a good recipe to have all the items prepared ahead, but throw them on the griddle when you are just about ready to eat (they take 10 minutes to cook). We used our cuisinart panini press as a griddle, and it has a nice even heat. If you have a cast iron skillet, this is definitely the recipe for a skillet. Also, use this recipe as an opportunity to make friends with the grater on your food processor that alone made the recipe worth a try for me. It took me approximately 1 minute to finely grate three zucchini and onion. Finally, be sure you make a good effort in removing the liquid from the vegetables. I kept reading that it was amazing how much water is in zucchini, which is very logical when you think about it, but insane when you see how much comes out. Because I ended up spending a good amount of time de-liquidfying (mostly due to not wanting to screw up Christmas dinner), I also chose to add cream instead of milk to my fritter. I worried that our skim milk would make the fritter too soggy. All in all, the efforts were rewarded with a perfectly balanced fritter.
Although this is not a quick weeknight recipe, it is also not too challenging to try at home. This might be a fun dinner to make with a date or serve friends. I served it with a lemon and goat cheese spread that doubled as a dip for pita chips, which I will post later this week. We enjoyed the fritters with the Swiss Chard and Leek quiche, Roasted Root Vegetables, and steamed green beans. After our wonderful tapas styled Christmas dinner, AAM’s parents gave me a surprise gift from my secret wishlist, the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.After accomplishing the great zucchini fritter, I spent the next morning drinking coffee, reading, and dreaming up future dinners to try.
- 3 medium zucchini, grated
- 1/2 onion, grated
- kosher salt
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- cream or milk
- Lemon and Goat cheese dip, or greek yogurt
1. After grating the zucchini and onion, place in a bowl, add salt, and mix everything together. Let sit for 20-30 minutes. Then, using a mesh colander press the liquid out of the vegetables. Follow this by putting them on some paper towels, cover them with more paper towels, and press. Repeat this if they still feel soaked.
2. In a bowl, sift flour over the vegetables. Slowly fold the flour in, ensuring it is evenly distributed. Pour the beaten egg over the mixture, and stir together evenly.
3. This next step takes trust in your personal judgement. Slowly pour in the cream and stir. I did about a tablespoon at a time. Stop adding cream once the mixture is smooth when stirring, easy to remove from a spoon, but not liquidy. You can always test one fritter on the griddle, and add more cream if it seems off. This is the part where going slowly really pays off, but if you do end up adding too much cream add a little more flour and veggies.
4. Heat a griddle or cast iron skillet to medium, add a tablespoon of butter and make sure it hits all corners of the pan. Place a tablespoon of batter per fritter on the griddle. Let heat for 2-5 minutes, or until the underside has browned.
Flip the fritter over, and press it flat with your spatula. Let lightly brown for 2-5 minutes. Serve warm and with Greek yogurt or the Lemon and Goat Cheese dip.