No.9: Zucchini and Cheese Fritters
We used to have appetizers as a dinner once a week. We had three to five small-portion appetizers on a coffee table, sit on the couch, eat and watch a movie of our choice. It’s fun, especially on a rainy or foggy day. It’s even better if it’s Sunday evening when we try to squeeze in every bit of relaxation to prepare for the week. When Mad Scientist suggested we’d do an appetizer night, I was excited but didn’t think too much. A couple of hours later, a bit of panic. What do I have in the fridge? And there they were, a couple of zucchini are sitting quietly in the veggie drawer in the fridge, calling to be used. It’s not in the season, but hey.
Last year around this time, I ran into Zucchini Fritters recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I sat on trying this recipe. It’s not because it didn’t look good but specifically because I still have that side of me that is apprehensive of using green stuff. Overcoming them was easier than I thought with a little help from the cheese. But the sound of the word, Fritter, couldn’t have been more appealing. As the name goes, the fritter technically is “anything fried.” Even shrimp tempura is a fritter. Who would’ve thought of that, especially to a person who grew up with many tempura in her life time. (I admit, I thought tempura was its own category.)
I made zucchini fritters many times ever since then. Each time with different methods of shredding, different cheeses, flours, and frying oils to list a few. I find that we liked shredding zucchini with a cheese grater as the dish melted in our mouth. The one shredded with a food processor provided more heartier feel to it, and I prefer to use this method when serving as a meal.
According to my experiment, we preferred it with a scoop of ricotta cheese. Adding the good amount of it to the batter made fritters a bit lighter.
We also thought that the ones made with a brown rice flour had some nuttier flavor and seem to fit in our lifestyle. Using all-purpose flour gave us more of traditional fritter-like texture but I felt a bit heavier to our taste. I personally didn’t see any difference in the final product between all-purpose and white whole wheat flour. I believe that any flour can be used for this. However, the batter with gluten-free flour can be a bit more watery than the one made with all-purpose flour. It didn’t stop me from making them, but just my observation.
So for our little appetizer night, I served a couple of fritters, Spanakopita, and small chicken dumplings. And a glass of wine.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), ends trimmed
- 1 tablespoon salt (Kosher)
- 1/3 cup brown rice flour (or use all-purpose flour)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/3 cup cheese mix (Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago cheese) or simply a cheese of your choice*
- 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
- Sea salt & white pepper to taste
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil/Vegetable Oil
Grate zucchini with either the food processor or a cheese grater with larger hole. Place them in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of salt, let it sit about 15 minutes. Squeeze the liquid by putting them in a colander and gently press by a palm of a hand.* Try to squeeze as much liquid as possible from the zucchini.
Meanwhile, mix the flour and the baking powder and set aside.
Whisk egg lightly in a large bowl with garlic powder and white pepper; add cheese mix and ricotta cheese and whisk again. Add the zucchini and fold lightly with folk. Add the dry ingredients from above, fold well until you don't see any dry ingredients in the mixture.
Heat the sauté pan or a large skillet with 2-3 tablespoons of oil over high heat. The oil should cover the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to the medium. Scoop small amount of batter with gravy ladle/spoon* and drop in the pan - cook 4 at a time. Fry the fritters over medium heat about 4 minutes, or until the edges are crisp and the bottom of the fritters are golden. Flip them and cook 3 minutes more. Drain the fritters on paper towel. Repeat this process with remaining batter.
Serve warm, or reheat them in 350 degree oven for a few of minutes when serving at a later time.
I use brown rice flour, which is gluten-free, but the recipe itself isn't totally gluten-free. There are several different ways to remove the liquid from the zucchini, and one above is the one I do all the time. Alternatively, you can use a cheese cloth and squeeze liquids. I don't put extra salt for the taste especially when using cheeses. Cheese already has enough salt in it, and I don't feel we need extra to adjust the taste. If the batter is watery, add extra flour to get the battery consistency, 1 tablespoon at a time. I find that a gravy ladle/spoon is useful when cooking small pancake-like dishes. It will scoop to make about 1 1/2 inch size fritter or pancake.