Me an’ zucchini are like this.
We work well together and always have. I respect Zucchini’s freshness, beautiful color, versatility, and moisture content. And Zucchini respects that I eat him all the time.
I first met Zucchini when I was a child and he was nothing but a deep fried stick. We knew almost instantly that our love affair would be anything, but brief. Growing up in an Italian household, Zucchini was always grown in backyards and used in abundance in everything from snacks, salads, sautes, and sauces. Naturally as I child, my favorite of his forms was when he was crispy and fried, but as I grew up I found my tastes and needs changing. The fried sticks no longer worked for me when I craved him fried; thick crusts and undercooked vegetable were a turn off, I needed layers of flavor that aided only in enhancing the natural flavor of the deep green squash.
Ever understand Zucchini was happy to accommodate.
As an adult I’ve settled – for the time being – on zucchini fritters. A pinch of red pepper flakes and a hint of sweet sauteed onion adds new depth to fresh flavor of the grated, drained zucchini.
1/2 yellow onion
1 egg, beaten
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
2 TBSP panko bread crumbs
2 TBSP fresh chopped parsley
I shredded the Zucchini with a regular cheese grater, tossed it with a 1/4 tsp salt, and placed the zucchini in a colander to drain for 10 minutes or so. While I was waiting for it to give up its excess water, I finely chopped 1/2 an onion and sauteed it over medium heat in 1/2 tbsp butter, 1/2 TBSP olive oil, and 1/2 tsp salt, until the onion was translucent and just beginning to brown. The bit of butter adds a little richness to the sweet onion while the olive oil keeps the butter from burning while sauteing.
In a large bowl I mixed together the egg, cheese, flour, panko, red pepper, and 1 TBSP of the parsley. The mixture was very thick. I then squeezed out any excess liquid from the zucchini and added it to the mixing bowl. Just between straining and then squeezing, I got over a 1/4 cup and 1 TBSP of bright green liquid from the Zucc. Again, the mixture is very thick so I found ti easiest to mix everything with my hands.
I love the flavor of olive oil, but when it comes to frying – even pan frying as these fritters are – I find it to just be too heavy. In a medium skillet over a medium high flame, I heated 3 TBSP of vegetable oil. Once the oil moved freely around the bottom of the pan, but wasn’t smoking, I placed heaping tablespoon dollops of the zucchini mixture into the pan and flattened each to about 1/4 inch thick. They took 5-6 minutes, about 2-3 minutes per side, to brown nicely. The key was getting them to cook through, crisp, and yet not linger in the oil so long that the fritters absorbed it rather than cooked in it.
Once golden, I placed the fritters on a plate with a paper towel to drain, sprinkling each with salt while it was still hot.
Served with merely a sprinkling of lemon juice, these zucchini fritters were the perfect lunch, though not necessarily the healthiest, and would make an excellent appetizer.