Yes I have been frittering my summer away, and I mean that literally. I’ve been experimenting with market veggies all summer long, turning them into different versions of a basic fritter. And they are frittering fantastic, if I do say so myself. The beauty of these little fried patties is that they are incredibly flexible. They do take some effort in the frying, but just think—no matter what’s in that frig—what’s gotta go, you can pretty much use it to fritter away.
Here’s the deal: to make any variation of fritter, you are going to need five cups of shredded/diced veggies. So, admittedly, not all veggies will work here; you need sturdy ones, like potatoes, cabbage, onions and squash—any vegetable you can shredded or dice up. So, maybe not tomatoes and cucumbers, for instance. But you can still go way outside the box with this. My favorite combination so far was an early spring version, using turnips, radishes, kohlrabi, carrots and onion. Spicy and flavorful! Now that summer is in full swing, I’m using zucchini, red potatoes, diced bell pepper, onion and red cabbage—very tasty. Get the idea? For fall, I’m thinking winter squash, sweet potatoes, fennel and diced cauliflower. So creative caps in place….Ready. Set. Fritter!
- Five cups shredded or diced sturdy vegetables (A combination that includes some pungent vegetables such as onions, garlic or radishes is going to have more flavor. Aim for creating a balance of mild, earthy and pungent. Will beets qualify? Sure, but you will have pink fritters.)
- Two to three tablespoons seasoning. (I used my homemade Harissa with salt and pepper to taste. See the notes for more options.)
- Two egg whites and one large egg, slightly beaten (Two large eggs would probably work, too. The whites are just nice binders and a great way to use up leftover whites from another recipe.)
- Two tablespoons lemon juice, and a little zest, if you wish, for added flavor
- One cup fine-ground cornmeal
- One-half cup coconut flour (Note that the addition of coconut flour is fairly critical here. It soaks up moisture like a big sponge and will keep your fritters from becoming too wet, helping them hold their shape. If coconut flour is not an option for you, try three-quarters cup fine Panko bread crumbs.)
- One-half cup of your favorite cheese (This is optional, but pretty tasty. We used Marcoot Jersey Creamery Habanero Jack one time and Smoked Gouda the next. Both were “Gouda!”)
- One-half to three-quarters cup coconut oil or other high flashpoint oil such as peanut, sesame or grapeseed. Olive is not recommended here. Start with half a cup in the skillet and add more as you need.
- Begin by shredding or dicing all your vegetables. Place them in a colander with fairly small holes and press down periodically while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Your goal is to eliminate as much liquid as you can from the prepared vegetables.
- Now make your batter. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cornmeal and coconut flour or Panko crumbs with salt and pepper to taste, depending on how you plan to season your fritters. Any dry herbs or spices can be added at this point. Add the cheese, if you are using.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and lemon juice and add to the dry mix. If you decided to use hot sauce like Harissa, whisk it with the eggs and juice before adding to the flour mixture. Use a rubber spatula to thoroughly combine everything.
- Add your drained vegetables to the batter. When I used zucchini or other vegetables that hold a lot of water, I took the time to wring them out by handfuls one last time as they went into the batter. Then used the rubber spatula to combine into a very thick mixture that will hold together in your hand. Add some extra flour or bread crumbs if the mixture is still too soggy. However, you don’t want this mixture to become so dry it won’t hold a shape. If that happens, I'd add a tablespoon or two of water. The batter will remain a bit fragile. Practice goes a long way here. My fritters were a little better each time I made them. But they were never less than pretty darn good.
- Melt your coconut oil in a large heavy skillet. I suggest cast iron. If you have a deep fryer, you can try that, too. But the large cast iron skillet worked just fine for me. As the oil melts, shape the first of your fritters into patties; a little larger than dollar size works well, but avoid anything larger, as they will be harder to handle.
- Very carefully, place the fritters one by one in the hot oil using a spatula. Once they are browned nicely on one side, use a second spatula to help you turn them over. It’s a lot like making pancakes—the better the finish on the bottom, the easier the turn will be. As your fritters finish up, you can keep them warm on a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet in a warm oven (say 200 degrees) until all the fritters are done.
For your seasoning, it depends on whether you are a big fan of hot and spicey or just flavorful and savory. We loved the Harissa in this, but you could tone it down with a tablespoon or two of your favorite spices and fresh herbs. Up to you.
These fritters have graced our table at dinner with a dollop of homemade aioli, out at Biver Farm on CSA night with a sweet mango salsa and even at breakfast with soft-cooked eggs. And then there’s that Grilled Tomatillo and Avocado Salsa…. What a way to fritter the summer away, eh?