Zucchini Fritters, Tzatziki Sauce, and Carpaccio

Zucchini Fritters make a great appetizer or side dish.

I love vegetables, especially those I can cook quickly and simply. Shopping with the seasons in mind makes it easy to enjoy their flavors in their truest form… you don’t have to do much to a perfectly ripe, in season tomato, or green beans, or [insert your favorite vegetable of choice].

a typical July pick up at the farm
A typical July pick up at the farm.

Our town is home to a small organic farm and we are fortunate enough to belong to its CSA (Community Supported Agriculture); in the cold dark months of winter we pre-pay our local farm for a season’s worth of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Here in our part of the world that means I pick up our weekly share beginning in June and go through October. Each pick up day is a little like Christmas morning… what is in my share this week? How much am I going to get? Since June, this season has brought greens of all sorts, lettuces, scallions, scapes, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, kohlrabi, onions, garlic, beets, fennel, beans, herbs, and berries. With every pick up comes the happy challenge of how to use each of these gifts before next week’s share demands my attention and refrigerator space.

Part of a weekly pick up in July
Part of a weekly pick up in July.

Unfortunately, there is a dark side. Because of the seasonality, the downside is that “you get what you get and you don’t get upset.” Words I’ve often said to my kids and lately, find myself repeating weekly as I pick up an every growing ration of zucchini. It’s the nature of the beast and we are in prime zucchini season. I’m sure you are seeing loads of zucchini too… in your CSA, at the farmer’s market, and at the supermarket.

Zucchini
Zucchini

Despite all my veggie love, zucchini is one that I could do without. It’s my personal kryptonite. I’m not sure why this is… I don’t recall any traumatic childhood dinner table incidents involving zucchini. Maybe it’s because it looks so much like a cucumber- and I love cucumber, so that I’m always disappointed by the false pretense, a poser. Maybe it’s the tendency to quickly turn to mush if left a minute too long on the stove, in a soup, or on the grill.  In any case, I must accept that we are at peak zucchini season. Each passing week larger and larger quantities are appearing in my share, stretching my creativity, pushing me out of my zucchini comfort zone. Rising to the challenge, I’ve found a few ways to prepare this green monster so that I actually enjoy eating it. Zucchini season won’t last forever, by the time I’m ready to wave the white flag, or dishtowel in this case, it’s time will be done, replaced by one of my favorites- tomatoes. In the meanwhile, enjoy these easy and delicious takes on zucchini.

The Zucchini Fritters make excellent appetizers, sides, and stand on their own for lunch (or breakfast- eaten straight from the fridge!).  You’ll find plenty of uses for the accompanying Tzatziki Sauce recipe. In addition to serving it with the fritters, I use it as a topping for meat- think lamb burgers and seafood, especially shrimp; use it as a dip for veggies or pita chips; spread it on naan, add the protein of your choice and some crunchy lettuce to build a delicious wrap.   The Zucchini Carpaccio recipes are incredibly versatile, and take about 5 minutes to get on the table.  I’ve given measurements, but please improvise according to your taste.  There is no right or wrong!  If you love lemon, use more lemon!  Don’t like goat cheese and thyme?  Use feta and oregano!  Play with your food.

Please feel free to share your favorite ways of preparing zucchini. I’m always on the hunt for more tasty ideas.

Zucchini Fritters
Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Fritters

  • Servings: about 18 fritters
  • Time: 30 minutes
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adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2007

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups coarsely grated zucchini (from about 3 medium)
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
½ cup (or more) all purpose flour
½ cup crumbled feta
1 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
½ cup chopped green onion
1 ½ Tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Tzatziki Sauce (recipe follows)

Preparation:
Toss zucchini in ½ teaspoon salt in a colander, place in the sink allowing the zucchini to “sweat.” Let stand for 5 minutes. Press out excess liquid; transfer zucchini to a dry bowl.

Mix in egg, yolk, ½ cup flour, cheese and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Mix in parsley, onions, and dill. If batter is very wet, add more flour by the spoonful.

Preheat a cast iron skillet or griddle* over medium high heat. Working in batches, drop batter by rounded tablespoons onto skillet. Cook fritters until golden, about 5 minutes per side.

Serve with tzatziki sauce or plain greek yogurt.

*Because seasoned cast iron is non-stick I didn’t need to use oil. If you are using a regular skillet, you will have to fry the patties in a mixture of 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of corn oil, adding more olive and corn oil as needed.
**Can be made 1 day ahead. Place on baking sheet, cover, and chill. Rewarm uncovered in 350° oven for 12 minutes.

Grated zucchini waiting to be salted.
After grating the zucchini, toss it with 1/2 tsp of salt. Set in a colander and place in the sink to let it “sweat.”
prepped and chopped dill, parsley, and green onion
Dill, parsley, and green onion prepped, chopped, and ready to go.
grated zucchini, flour, egg, egg yolk, and feta
Gently combine the grated zucchini, flour, egg, egg yolk, and feta.
adding the herbs to the zucchini mixture
Add the herbs to the zucchini mixture.
the zucchini batter is ready
After gently incorporating the herbs with the zucchini mixture, the batter is ready.
zucchini fritters cooking on the griddle
Drop batter by rounded tablespoons onto a preheated cast iron skillet or griddle.
zucchini fritters are cooking on the other side
When the fritters are golden on one side, flip them. Cooking time is about 5 minutes per side.
zucchini fritters
Serve the zucchini fritters with dollops of tzatziki or plain greek yogurt.

Tzatziki Sauce

  • Servings: approximately 1 cup
  • Time: 15 minutes
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This sauce is a delicious multitasker. Serve it as a dip for vegetables, pita chips or wedges, grilled lamb, and the zucchini fritters.

Ingredients:
8 oz full fat greek yogurt
½ a hot house cucumber, cut lengthwise, seeded, quartered, and finely diced
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preparation:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Serve immediately, or let it sit in the fridge to really let the flavors come together.

Yogurt, cucumber, dill, lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, and salt
Combine the yogurt, cucumber, dill, lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, and salt. It really is that easy!
Tzatziki Sauce with olives and pita wedges
Tzatziki Sauce with olives and pita wedges. Add the zucchini fritters and a glass of rosé … a perfect way to start a summer evening.

Zucchini Carpaccio with Parmesan, Pine Nuts, and Basil

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 5 minutes
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Ingredients:
½ zucchini, any size
1 Tablespoon toasted pine nuts
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped basil
parmesan shavings
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
Using a vegetable peeler, peel zucchini vertically into thin ribbons.

Toss with lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil.

Top with parmesan curls, toasted pine nuts, and basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Zucchini ribbons tossed with parmesan, pine nuts, and fresh basil.
Zucchini ribbons tossed with parmesan, pine nuts, and fresh basil.

Zucchini Carpaccio with Goat Cheese and Thyme

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:
½ zucchini, any size
2 Tablespoon crumbled goat cheese
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
Using a vegetable peeler, peel zucchini vertically into thin ribbons.

Toss with lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil.

Top with crumbled goat cheese and fresh thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Zucchini ribbons tossed with goat cheese and fresh thyme.
Zucchini ribbons tossed with goat cheese and fresh thyme.

4 thoughts on “Zucchini Fritters, Tzatziki Sauce, and Carpaccio

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