Sunday, July 21, 2013

Simple Zucchini Fritters

There's no doubt that it's zucchini season. The farmers' market is full of it and my coworkers and I can't stop talking about ways to use up the bounty growing in our gardens. For most people I know their first thought is zucchini bread, but for me it's grilled zucchini and zucchini fritters. I'm most certainly not anti-sweets, but when a vegetable first comes into season, I like to start with recipes that feature it, not hide it. So let's start with the basics. A fritter is a very simple thing - filling mixed with batter and fried. Delicious, right? I'm never one to turn down a deep-fried fritter at a restaurant or food cart, but when it comes to cooking at home, I'm generally a pan-frying kind of girl. It's easier and healthier and doesn't require me to plan the order of cooking things in the Fry Baby so I don't end up making donuts tasting like fish sticks. And if I'm going to make a batter, why not make it whole grain? Regular whole wheat flour can weigh recipes down, but airy whole wheat pastry flour buoys them up. Though not a flavorful powerhouse on its own, zucchini is delicious conduit and it only take a simple seasoning of salt, pepper, garlic, and fresh herbs to make this ordinary vegetable delectable.

While I started very simple, I already see myriad opportunities for customization. Trying swapping out half of the zucchini for carrots (or other veggies), experiment with different mixes of herbs, and throw in additional spices and citrus zest and juice. These fritters can fit in with any meal - alongside fried eggs for breakfast, with a salad for lunch, or next to a hearty piece of meat for dinner. If you find yourself with an overzealous farmers' market haul or overproducing plant in the garden, this recipes will help you use up that surplus at any and every meal.

Simple Zucchini Fritters
serves 1 to 2

1/2 pound (about 1 medium) zucchini
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus additional
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs (parsley, basil, chives, cilantro, dill, etc.)
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced or pressed through a garlic press
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry or all-purpose flour
Olive or canola oil or cooking spray

1. Using the large holes of a box grater, grate zucchini into a medium bowl. Add the salt and stir thoroughly to coat. Transfer zucchini to a colander and allow to drain for at least 15 minutes. Squeeze excess moisture from zucchini and return to bowl.

2. Add egg, herbs, and garlic to zucchini, season with salt and pepper, and mix together thoroughly. Add flour and stir to combine. Preheat a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat and coat with a thin layer of oil. Add zucchini mixture to pan, about 1/4 cup a time, making sure not to crowd the fritters.

3. Cook fritters until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. Lower heat to medium. Turn fritters, and continue cooking until golden, 3 to 4 minutes more. Transfer fritters to a plate; set aside in a warm place. Repeat with any remaining zucchini mixture, if needed, adding additional oil if necessary.

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