From Too Many Chefs -

July 18, 2006
Zucchini Fritters

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.

Zucchini Fritters
2 lbs shredded zucchini/summer squash
2 eggs
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
vegetable oil
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.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at July 18, 2006 7:39 AM

Does Zucchini have an aborbancy problem like Eggplant? Eggplant requires some extra steps in the pre-cooking process to avoid it absorbing too much oil from the pan. Did you find you had a similar problem with the Zucchini or does zucchini not have the same air-pockets that eggplant has?

Posted by Justin Lo on July 18, 2006 at 9:25 AM

When its shredded, it didn't seem to have as much of a problem as you'd expect. The fritters did pick up a bit of oil, but the blotting process removed a lot of the excess.

The key is make sure the zucchini is dry dry dry before mixing, so any water coming out of it doesn't reduce the oil's temperature too much, which would delay the forming of the more oil repellant crust.

They were moist inside when completed, but not really oily.

Posted by barrett on July 18, 2006 at 9:33 AM

If you're short of courgette/zucchini recipes, there's a great Madhur Jaffrey recipe in Eastern Vegetarian Cooking for courgette raita which someone has conveniently put on the web here. It's a great book (and I'm not veggie myself).

Posted by Harry on July 18, 2006 at 9:34 AM

My mother, Meg's Grandmother Kehoe, solved the zucchini problem in this way.

Zucchini Lasagna

6 c. thinly sliced zucchini (the long way) approx.1 1/2 lbs.
1/2lb ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. EACH basil and oregano
1 c. small curd cottage cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 TBS parsley flakes
1/4 c. dry bread crumbs
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese (4 oz.)

Cook zucchini in boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain. Brown ground beef. Add garlic, tomato sauce, salt and herbs. Blend beaten egg, cottage cheese and parsley. Put half of zucchini in buttered 8" square pan. Layer half bread crumbs,cottage cheese, meat sauce and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers, except Mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Put second half of mozzarella cheese on and bake 5 to 10 minutes more. Let stand and serve.

Grandma used dried herbs, but I think fresh would be even better. We so enjoyed this for the first month or so. She used to drain the slices and freeze them so we could have the lasagna in February.

Posted by Meg's MOM on July 18, 2006 at 12:53 PM

She also made a rather tasty zucchini bread if I recall!

Posted by Meg in Paris on July 18, 2006 at 1:49 PM

Barrett, that might be another trick for getting the water out of the zukes for your fritters!

Posted by Meg in Paris on July 19, 2006 at 3:24 AM

Hi there -- Another idea for zucchini is to make zucchini relish! Canning isn't too hard and you could make both a sweet and a tart version, just like cucumber relish. That way, you can enjoy the summer bounty all year long!

Posted by Libby on July 20, 2006 at 11:05 PM

these look very moreish. yum!

Posted by jenjen on July 22, 2006 at 10:02 AM

these look very moreish. yum!

Posted by jenjen on July 22, 2006 at 10:03 AM

Wow, I am going to make these for breakfast. I can prep the zucchini tonight, right?

Posted by Lilly on July 22, 2006 at 9:25 PM

Wow, I am going to make these for breakfast. I can prep the zucchini tonight, right?

Posted by Lilly on July 22, 2006 at 9:25 PM