I think zucchini get a bad rap. At our local farmers market, the corn and tomatoes are total attention whores and poor little zucchini are waiting in the background for someone to notice that they’re sweet too. If only they’d take their glasses off and let their hair down… Well the good tomatoes aren’t ready yet and a girl can’t live on corn alone, so zucchini, you’re coming home with me.
I had bought several before remembering that, when you grow something, you don’t really have to buy it anymore. So I realized I needed to find a recipe that uses quite a bit of it. The pale squash below are from our garden, and the darker ones are from the market. (If you’re growing your own, or even just picking from the market, it’s best to go for zucchini that are smaller. They tend to have less water and a firmer texture.)
My one rule about zucchini is I don’t like it raw or even semi-cooked. It’s slimy and chalky. Blech, no thanks. But when it’s fully cooked, lovely and caramelized, it becomes sweet, tender and definitely crave-able. I decided to make fritters because, well, fritters are always a good idea. Really, anything “frittered” is going to be tasty. I ended up kind of combining a zucchini pancake recipe from the Barefoot Contessa with a zucchini fritter recipe from Smitten Kitchen. With my own spin on it, of course.
This recipe works equally well with yellow or green zucchini.
- 1 pound (about 2 medium) yellow or green zucchini
- 1–1/4 teaspoons course Kosher salt
- 1/2 medium red onion
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- Olive oil (not extra-virgin) or vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Have a baking sheet with a wire rack ready.
Trim ends off zucchini and grate them either on the large holes of a box grater or, if you have one, using the shredding blade of a food processor. Using a food processor makes this incredibly quick work and also makes long strands, perfect for fritters. I cut mine in half so they’ll shred lengthways.
Remove the zucchini to a large bowl (we like Nigella Lawson’s) and then shred the onion the same way. Add it to the zucchini. Toss zucchini and onion with 1–1/4 teaspoons coarse salt and set aside for 15 minutes. Wring out the zucchini mixture by wrapping it up in a clean dishtowel or piece of cheese cloth and squeeze away. You’ll be shocked by how much liquid comes out. You could also put the mixture in a wire mesh strainer and press down on it with a spoon or a bowl.
Return zucchini shreds to bowl. Stir in egg, flour, baking powder and some freshly ground black pepper. In a large heavy skillet (Le Creuset or cast iron is the way to go here), heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Drop small bunches of the zucchini mixture onto the skillet a few at a time so they don’t become crowded. You can press them down and shape them a bit with a spoon before they set.
Cook the fritters over moderately high heat until the edges underneath are golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. If they brown too quickly, reduce the heat to medium. Flip the fritters and fry them on the other side until browned underneath again, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Drain briefly on paper towels then transfer to baking sheet with a wire rack and then into the warm oven until needed. Repeat, keeping the pan well-oiled, with remaining batter.
Lemon Basil Sour Cream
- 1 cup sour cream or greek yogurt (reduced-fat works fine; we also used a little creme fraiche since we were out of yogurt)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (about half a lemon worth)
- 3 tablespoons basil, minced
- 1 small clove of garlic, minced or grated
- Salt and pepper to taste
Stir together the sour cream, lemon juice, zest, basil, salt, pepper and garlic. You could also whir it together in a food processor, if you want.
- You can make these in advance. Keep them chilled in the fridge for a few days or frozen in a zip-lock bag for months. When you’re ready to use them, spread them out on a tray in a 325 degree oven until they’re hot and crisp again.
- Use a microplane to grate garlic when using it raw. That way there are no big pieces to worry about.
- These fritters are really good with a poached or fried egg on top.
- Instead of basil, you could make the sauce with any soft herb (chive, mint, tarragon, etc). Add a little at a time and taste so it’s not too strong a flavor.