With the summer solstice just around the corner, Joshua Tree is heating up into the 90s. At the local farmer’s market this weekend, I spotted some summer squash, and decided to jump into the new season.
Zucchini, a vibrant green summer squash, is this week’s featured ingredient.
Its name is derived from the Italian word zucchino, meaning small pumpkin.
This summer squash can grow up to a meter in length, but is usually harvested at under 8 inches. When zucchini are small, often growing with a flower attached to one end, they are most tender and sweet.
Zucchini is one of the easiest fruits to cultivate in temperate climates. It has a reputation among gardeners for overwhelming production. One good way to control over-abundance is to harvest the edible flowers. The flowers may be battered, stuffed, sautéed, baked, or used in soups. 1
Zucchini contain folate, potassium, vitamin A, and manganese. 2
This week’s recipe is for Zucchini Fritters. Zucchini fritters are a traditional Turkish dish they call mücver, and serve with seasoned yogurt. I am not a huge fan of summer squash, but I love these warm, crispy cakes topped with sour cream. They make a great after-school snack for your little ones, or appetizer at your next dinner party. 3
Recipe Variations: To maximize fritter crispiness, one can place grated zucchini in a wire strainer placed over a bowl, stir in salt, and let stand 10-20 minutes until liquid has drained out of zucchini. Wrap zucchini in paper towels/cheese cloth and press/wring out remaining moisture. Make fritters following recipe below (it may need a little more salt), and then crisp on a baking sheet in a 200F oven for 10+ minutes before serving.
Mexican-style: Use cheddar or jack cheese. Substitute some zucchini with whole beans, corn kernels, diced red bell pepper, (minced jalapeño for spice lovers) and cumin in batter. Top fritters with salsa and guacamole.
Chinese-style: Substitute some zucchini with julienned red cabbage, grated carrots, and diced water chestnuts in batter. Omit cheese. Top fritters with hoisin sauce.
Italian-style: Use mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Add diced red bell pepper, basil and oregano. Top fritters with tomato sauce.
Vegan: Substitute eggs with 1 cup pureed silken tofu. Omit or substitute cheese with 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast or 1 cup melting vegan cheese.
Gluten-free: Substitute wheat flour with garbanzo bean flour or a gluten-free flour blend.
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 15-20 fritters
2 medium 8″, or 3 small 6″ zucchini, coarsely grated
1 cup cheese, grated or crumbled
2 eggs, beaten
pinch black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup flour
oil for sautéing
Greek yogurt or sour cream for garnish
optional: 2 sliced green onions, 1 clove minced garlic
large holed grater
large heavy pan
1. Begin preheating pan on medium-low heat.
2. Place zucchini in bowl and stir in cheese, eggs, flour, pepper, salt (and optional onions and garlic if desired).
3. Coat bottom of heated pan with thin layer of oil. Spoon mounds (~2 Tablespoons each) of batter into pan, spreading them to form 3″ fritters.
4. Saute until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes each side.
5. Place fritters on paper towels to remove excess oil.
6. Serve warm, topped with Greek yogurt or sour cream.
Leftover fritters can be stored in a sealed container in fridge up to a week, or freezer up to 3 months. Then bake at 325F until crisp and hot.