Perfect for Summer! Recipe for Herbed Zucchini Fritters with Stone Fruit Salsa

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Stone Fruit Salsa

Stone Fruit Salsa

Those cute little patty-pans and curvy Costata Romanescos might seem adorable harbingers of mellow summer dinners now, but soon, the farmers market, your veggie box, and your home garden will be pumping out more summer squash than your kitchen can handle. Round as a cue ball, scalloped like a Super-8 movie spaceship, ridged and grooved, as dark as an alligator or shiny yellow as an August sun in Oakland, these tender-skinned members of the Cucurbitacaea family–which also includes cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, and gourds–will be with us in abundance for the next four or five months, so you might as well get the jump on what to do with them.

First, though, know how to pick them. Look for firm squash with smooth, shiny skin. Smaller is better; not tiny babies, but nothing baseball bat-sized, either. Oversized, flabby squash will be fibrous and bland, and and have too many well-developed seeds. I generally look for squash a little smaller than my forearm.

Summer squash don’t look juicy, but don’t be fooled: there’s a lot of water in there, and you’d better do something about it if you don’t want to end up with a wet mess on your plate. Zucchini does very well grilled, inside on a hot grill pan or outside on any type of grill. Cut lengthwise (or crosswise, if you’re using round squash) into flat planks, not too thin, and make sure to brush each slice well with olive oil to keep it from drying up into a hard zucchini chip. Plenty of salt and pepper helps, too.

You can also use a mandoline to shave your squash into long, thin ribbons, then toss with lots of lemon juice, a shower of fresh herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil, for a crunchy-tender raw salad. You can make the excellent zucchini tea bread from The Silver Palate Cookbook, or add handfuls of grated zukes to your pancake or muffin batters. You can head overproduction off at the pass by plucking the extra flowers off your plants before they’re pollinated. Stuff them with a nubbin of fresh mozzarella or goat cheese, dip them into a light batter and fry them in olive oil into irresistible crispy-molten bites. (For recipes, check out Denise Santoro Lincoln’s post Zucchini Happiness: Four Ways.)

But for summer dinners, I like to make these tasty little zucchini fritters. A tomato salsa would, of course, work here, but for the moment, why not take advantage of the too many peaches you’ll be buying? Dazzled by the sudden arrival of sweet-perfumed stone fruit (meaning fruit with a single central pit, like peaches, apricots, plums, and nectarines), I can’t resist buying a few pieces–or five–at every stand I pass. An aprium here, three pluots there, and by the time I’ve taken 2 Muni buses and lugged my tote bags up the hills of Bernal to home, what I’ve got is more like pulp. But delicious pulp, perfect for sweet jam or savory salsa.

If you’re using apricots or plums, you can leave the skins on, since they’ll hardly be noticed, and in the case of the plums, they’ll add another layer of tart flavor. However, the fuzzy skin on peaches is better removed. Boil up a pot of water, dunk the peaches in for a minute or two, drain and let rest until just cool enough to handle. The skins should slip right off, revealing the stained-glass color within.

Demonstrating this recipe at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market last Tuesday, I got a number of questions about making this recipe wheat-free and/or gluten-free. While I haven’t tested this recipe using non-wheat flour, I feel it would work just fine that way. Try it with brown rice flour, cornmeal, garbanzo bean flour, or your favorite gluten-free flour blend, then please share your experience (and recipe modifications) in the comments.

Recipe: Herbed Zucchini Fritters with Stone Fruit Salsa

Shred your way through summer’s abundance of zucchini to these savory, crunchy fritters, served with a tangy peach (or apricot or plum) salsa. Lightly salting the shredded zucchini and letting the excess liquid drain off before mixing in the rest of the ingredients keeps the fritters from getting soggy. You can use any size or shape of zucchini or summer squash.

Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Fritters

Yield: 16 fritters

    Ingredients:

    Herbed Zucchini Fritters

  • 1 lb zucchini or summer squash (2-3 squash, depending on size)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, and/or cilantro
  • 3 scallions or 1/2 small bunch chives, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, marjoram, or summer savory
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose or whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Olive oil or vegetable oil, for frying

    Stone Fruit Salsa

  • 1 1/2 lbs yellow peaches, or a mixture of very ripe peaches, nectarines, apricots and/or plums (about 4-5 pieces, depending on size)
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped, or 1 tablespoon minced red onion
  • Juice of 1 lemon or lime, or to taste
  • 1 small fresh hot pepper, optional, seeded and diced
  • 1 mild red pepper, such as Gypsy, seeded and diced
  • Salt to taste
  • A handful of basil or cilantro, stemmed and roughly chopped
    Preparation:

  1. To make the fritters, grate zucchini on the large holes of a box grater (or the coarse grating disk of a food processor). Scoop grated zucchini into a colander, sprinkle with sea salt, and let drain for 10 minutes. Pick up handfuls of zucchini and squeeze vigorously to press out any extra liquid.
  2. In a large bowl, mix drained zucchini, carrots, herbs, and lemon zest and juice. Beat in eggs, then stir in flour, baking powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Line a plate with a double layer of paper towels or a brown paper grocery bag, for draining.
  3. Over medium heat, heat a wide skillet or sauté pan. Add oil to about a ¼-inch depth. Heat until a shred of fritter batter sizzles and browns quickly when added. Spoon batter by tablespoons into the pan, flattening into 3-inch rounds. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side, until well-browned on each side.
  4. Using a spatula, transfer finished fritters to towel-lined plate to blot up any extra oil. Serve warm topped with a spoonful of Stone Fruit Salsa.
  5. To make the Stone Fruit Salsa, pit and chop fruit into bite-size pieces. Toss with scallion, diced peppers, and lemon or lime juice. Add salt to taste. Just before serving, mix in basil.
Stone Fruit Salsa

Stone Fruit Salsa

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Category: Bay Area Bites Food + Drink, recipes, vegetarian and vegan

About the Author ()

Stephanie Rosenbaum Klassen is a longtime local food writer, author, and cook. Her books include The Art of Vintage Cocktails (Egg & Dart Press), World of Doughnuts (Egg & Dart Press); Kids in the Kitchen: Fun Food (Williams Sonoma); Honey from Flower to Table (Chronicle Books) and The Astrology Cookbook: A Cosmic Guide to Feasts of Love (Manic D Press). She has studied organic farming at UCSC and holds a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. She does frequent cooking demonstrations at local farmers’ markets and has taught food writing at Media Alliance in San Francisco and the Continuing Education program at Stanford University. She has been the lead restaurant critic for the San Francisco Bay Guardian as well as for San Francisco magazine. She has been an assistant chef at the Headlands Center for the Arts, an artists' residency program located in the Marin Headlands, and a production cook at the Marin Sun Farms Cafe in Pt Reyes Station. After some 20 years in San Francisco interspersed with stints in Oakland, Santa Cruz, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, she recently moved to Sonoma county but still writes in San Francisco several days a week.
  • sara

    Lovely! I really like zucchini fritters, but I usually serve them with a yogurt sauce…the stone fruit salsa sounds like a great change of pace!