How to Make Zucchini Fritters
Most people had their go-to pandemic food. Trendsetters baked sourdough, even-busier-than-before working moms relied on Instant Pot recipes, and remote work Millenials whipped coffee. For me, I bounced between trying time-intensive, gourmet new recipes and eating microwave popcorn for dinner. Both with wine.
And then I discovered fritters. I had never made fritters before, and was never particularly interested in the soggy, bland fried fritters I had tried before. But, I had tried to make zoodles (zucchini noodles) with my cheese grater and failed, so I decided to throw the shreds with some egg, flour, and cheese and bake (not fry) them into fritters. 17 minutes later, my new pandemic food was established!
Fritters became my COVID comfort food and, once I moved past zucchini, a low-waste savior. Leftover Indian food? Palak paneer fritters. Wilted leeks? Fritters! On the first day of summer, sweet corn fritters seemed an apt way to celebrate.
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Start with the Veg
You can use any vegetable as the base of a delicious fritter, as long as you account for the moisture content. Sweet potatoes and carrots can be grated and used straight into the mix. The same goes for broccoli, spinach, and leeks, cut up into small pieces. Corn off the cob works great as well, but if you use frozen corn, make sure to defrost the kernels first. Zucchini and squash, however, need to be drained after chopping or grating to remove excess water. For legumes and leftovers, there is some trial and error that goes into finding the right moisture content, just add a little extra flour and hope for the best.
Most fritters have some sort of cheese, which can be anything from mild mozzarella to sharp cheddar or even crumbled goat cheese. If you have strong flavors in your base or herbs, opt for a milder cheese. Parmesan cheese gets nice and crispy due to the low moisture content, and the flavor works with almost anything. If you avoid dairy, you can leave out the cheese without needing any substitutions. As for spices, any favorite fresh or dried spice works great in fritters, from rosemary to cumin to cilantro. Garlic or shallots are a great addition, especially if you take the time to quickly sauté them before incorporating them into your mix.
Parmesan cheese gets nice and crispy due to the low moisture content, and the flavor works with almost anything.
Baked versus pan-Fried
If your goal is to sneak veggies into a hot, delicious snack, pan-frying gets them crispy and decadent. You only need a few tablespoons of oil for a shallow fry, heated until the fritters sizzle on the pan. For a healthier option, baking your fritters eliminates oil from the dish. I’ve found that baking my fritters also helps them keep their consistency for longer, so I can pop them in the fridge and reheat as an easy snack for several days.
Dont forget to dip
I didn’t start topping my fritters with dip until trying to improve a lackluster batch (my vegetable stock sludge), but now I don’t leave it off. Creamy sauces work best; try using a base of Greek yogurt stirred with harissa or pesto. Lemon aioli is versatile and balances savory fritters. There are plenty of ready-made dips that work well, like hummus, ranch dressing, or creamy artichoke dip.