In the Midwest United States, summer means a lot of zucchini. It starts off with neighbors offering each other a few zukes from the surprising crop they've grown in their little back yard garden, and as the rich black soil offers up more and more zucchini without cease, it turns into a competition to see who can get rid of their zucchini first. It's not entirely unheard of to hear the doorbell ring, and when one goes to answer it, finding a bushel of zucchini on the front step and a fading cackle of "It's yours now! It's yours!"
So how do you use up this sometimes overwhelming bounty? I've done pies, and breads and muffins, but I hadn't done fritters for a while.
The Redhead and I disagee over whether one should eat fried food in the summer. She would, of course, prefer I never ate fried food at all, but that's another story. In general, when she thinks of summer foods, she thinks of fruit and lemonade and light salads. I, on the other hand, think of corn dogs and fench fries and hush puppies. Basically, she thinks spa, and I think carnival midway.
She did, however, enjoy this zucchini fritter recipe which is most definitely fried. One piece of advice - you must get as much moisture out of the shredded zucchini as you can. Other recipes use bread crumbs and other filler to help absorb the moisture, but if you do it right, you can make a credible fritter with just vegetables, eggs, and a little oil.
I did not make the salsa, which you can purchase in any grocery store. I used a particularly garlicly one (Safeway's organic garlic lovers salsa), which complemented the zucchini well.
2 lbs shredded zucchini/summer squash
1/4 cup dry cheese - I used queso cotija, a Mexican crumbling cheese
1 jalapeno (or more if you like it hot)
salt and pepper
tomato-based salsa of your choice
This recipe makes about enough for two people as a main dish or four as a side.
Shred the zucchini on the big holes on a box grater. Add a pinch of salt to the shredded zucchini to help draw out the water. Wrap the zucchini in a linen-style towel or napkin (you know, smooth cloth) or cheesecloth. Squeeze out as much water as you can from the bundle. Let it sit for an hour wrapped and squeeze again.
Remove the seeds and membranes from the jalapeno. Finely dice the flesh of the pepper.
Unwrap the zucchini and dump it into a bowl. Beat two eggs lightly in a separate bowl. Dump the eggs into the zucchini bowl along with the cheese, diced jalapeno, a pich of salt and a good grind of pepper. Mix well.
Heat enough oil in a small skillet to cover the botom 1/4" deep. When the oil is hot and a bit of zucchini sizzles when placed in it, you are ready to begin frying the fritters.
Take 1/4 cup of the zucchini mix and lower it slowly into the oil. I packed a 1/4 cup measure with mix, then inverted it on the spatula I was using to slide it into the oil, then squished the fritter to be down with the spatula so the crown of it was just peeking out over the oil.
Fry the fritter until the bottom is browned. The edges should be a rich brown, the middle may still be pale. Flip the fritter carefully (so the oil, if it splashes, will splash away from you), and fry the second side until it's also browned. Remove to a plate covered with paper towels and blot to remove some of the oil.
Let the oil come back up to temperature and repeat with the rest of the mix.
While frying, don't let the oil start to smoke. If it does, turn the heat down a little until the oil is back to being hot, but is not smoking.
When you are done. Take a couple big spoonfuls of your favorite salsa and spread them across the middle of the plate. Lay the fritters on the salsa and serve. The salsa should be room temperature or cool and the fritters hot.