The Easy Way To Zucchini and Herb Fritters
Standing at the stove, frying latkes, small Korean scallion pancakes, or any other kind of veggie fritters can be not only a royal pain and time suck, but a real splattering mess.
This clever, alternative technique eliminates all of that — and seems so obvious, you’re sure to think, “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that sooner?”
The solution is oven-frying. Yes, letting your oven do all the heavy lifting by heating up a sheet pan with a generous amount of oil before dropping spoonfuls of your batter onto it, then returning the pan to the oven to cook and crisp up everything.
That’s the method behind these delicious “Zucchini and Herb Fritters.”
It’s a recipe from the new “The Secret of Cooking” (W.W. Norton), of which I received an early review copy.
The cookbook, which comes out on Sept. 26, is by By Bee Wilson, a British food writer and co-founder of TastEd, a food education focused on giving children more opportunities to experience fresh vegetables and fruits.
As the title implies, it’s filled with enticing, doable recipes that just might teach you a new, easier or faster way to prepare something.
Consider “Seared Carrots,” in which carrots are cut into thick coins, then cooked on high heat on each side undisturbed until they are deeply caramelized and even sweeter tasting. Or “Lime and Spice Pound Cake” that goes into a cold oven to create a luxurious crumb and once baked, gets a lime syrup glaze that creates a sugary crust. Or using that same cold-oven method on “Slow-Start Roasted Chicken” inspired by Chef Joel Robuchon for a supremely succulent bird. Or a “Ten-Minute Chana Masala” that takes advantage of using green onions over yellow ones and fresh tomatoes over canned to up the flavor on this shortcut recipe.
For these zucchini fritters, I actually one-upped Wilson on the shortcuts. She instructs to grate the zucchini, potatoes, onion, and garlic on a box grater. I used a food processor instead, which made this recipe even easier and faster. I added that option to the recipe below.
Place the grated veggies in a strainer over a bowl or the sink. Massage in salt, and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, before using your hands to squeeze out the excess liquid.
Drizzle a generous layer of olive oil onto two baking sheets and slide into the oven to get hot, at least 10 minutes.
Meantime, crack eggs in a bowl with herbs, lemon zest, and chili flakes. Whisk together, before adding flour, baking powder, and the grated veggies.
Once the pans are hot enough, carefully remove them from the oven, and drop spoonfuls of the zucchini batter onto them. The pan should be hot enough that the batter sizzles the second it hits the pan. Cook in the oven about 10 minutes, then flip the fritters, and return them to the oven to crisp up the other side.
Blot on paper towels, then enjoy.
They are crispy and herbaceous. They are plenty good just on their own. Or dress them up with most any sauce, such as salsa, ranch dressing, tzatsiki, or even a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream with a spoonful of caviar if you want to get fancy.
This is a great method when you’re cooking for guests, and want to make a big batch of veggie pancakes, but don’t want to spend all your time at the stove.
It’s also a handy method to roast any kind of root vegetable like potatoes or carrots. Adding them to a baking sheet slicked with plenty of oil that’s already preheated in the oven will ensure extra crispy edges, and who wouldn’t want that?
Don’t miss Wilson’s list of aphorisms at the back of the book that will make you smile with such witty truisms as: “An easy meal made by a relaxed person is better than an elaborate meal cooked in a state of stress” and “Every element in a recipe is optional — including the decision to cook it in the first place.”
Zucchini and Herb Fritters
(Serves 4 generously, as a main course, with a salad)
14 ounces potatoes, peeled
1 pound 2 ounces zucchini (or substitute root vegetables such as celery root or carrot or parsnip)
1 medium onion, red or yellow, peeled
2 cloves of garlic
3 large eggs
A few sprigs of mint or thyme or parsley or any herb that you have, finely chopped
Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
A couple of pinches of chile flakes (optional)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (can be gluten-free)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Grate the potatoes, zucchini, and onion on a coarse grater into a sieve over a bowl. (Or use a food processor to grate everything, and empty contents into a strainer.) Peel the garlic and grate on the fine side of the grater, adding it to the sieve. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and let rest for 10 minutes. While the mixture is set aside, drizzle a generous layer of oil on two baking sheets and put them into the oven. You want the oil to get hot before you add the fritters.
Now return to the grated vegetables. Squeeze out the excess liquid with your hands over the sieve. Then crack the eggs into another mixing bowl and beat together with the herbs and lemon zest (grated on the fine side of the grater) and the chile flakes if using. Add the flour, baking powder, and the vegetables to the eggs and mix well. Remove the baking sheets with the hot oil carefully from the oven. Dollop out spoonfuls of the mixture, spacing them out on the sheets. It should sizzle as it hits the oil. If not, the sheet is not hot enough — return it to the oven for a couple of minutes. Give the fritters 10 minutes. Then remove from the oven, flip with a spatula, and return to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to blot some of the oil.
- If you prefer, you can shallow-fry the mixture in batches in oil in a frying pan, transferring the fritters to a plate covered with paper towels then they are done.
- I like these with a salad of radishes and lettuce dressed with oil, lemon, and full-fat yogurt to which I have added half a clove of garlic, grated, with a big pinch of salt, and some nigella or cumin seeds.
- These also go well with fried or poached eggs, with or without feta cheese crumbled on top.
- If you have fritters left over, they also make excellent sandwiches the next day, like falafel, with hummus.
Adapted from “The Secret of Cooking” by Bee Wilson
More Veggie Fritters to Enjoy: Kimchi Pancake