Zucchini is a divisive vegetable. I find that people either love it or hate it. There's no middle ground.
Me, I'm a lover. At this time of year, I usually end up gorging myself on as much zucchini as I can buy... which is a lot, considering it's both cheap and abundant by early August.
I'd probably plant some, except for the fact that The Boy is quite firmly planted in the "hate it" side of things, and would probably balk at my attempts to sneak some zucchini into every single meal to deal with the overflow.
I understand where the haters are coming from, though. Their experience obviously stems from a bad experience with overcooked zucchini, which has an unfortunate tendency to be watery and slimy, and has an unpleasantly bitter aftertaste to boot.
Even a dedicated zucchini lover like me won't do much beyond poke dubiously at those flaccid greyish-green slices with my fork until they're as far away from me as possible... it's the vegetal equivalent of a well-done steak.
How to Cook Zucchini (the right way!)
The trick is to use tender young zucchini, which are much less bitter and watery than their overgrown siblings. A good zucchini is ;no more than an inch-and-a-half in diameter, with glossy green skin that is easily pierced with a fingernail.
More importantly, it must also be cooked fast over blisteringly hot heat, just long enough to kiss the surface with a hint of golden-brown caramelized goodness, and then removed immediately before the inside gets a chance to go mushy.
Oh, and a generous hand with the salt also helps. Salt and zucchini are very good friends.
The easiest way to convert a lover to a hater, though, is through these fritters. After all, there are few things in this world that aren't vastly better when they've been fried in hot oil.
The Inspiration for These Zucchini Fritters
The recipe is inspired by one of my favourite mezes, a simple zucchini fritter seasoned with lots of fresh dill, mint and crumbled feta that's known in Greece as kolokithokeftedes.
That said, similar dishes pop up pretty much everywhere along the Mediterranean coastline.
My version steers away from some of the more classic Greek flavours by subtracting the dill, and adding in sweet peas, shreds of fresh basil, and finely minced red hot chiles, all of which are generally known to get along quite well with feta and mint and zucchini.
It's a totally untraditional version of the original, but it's pretty darn delicious.
How to Serve Zucchini Fritters
Eaten fresh out of the pan, these fritters are a study in balance and contrast. The outside is delicately crisp from the hot oil, giving way to a gently soft, almost custardy interior.
Sweet zucchini shreds are interspersed with pops of sweet pea and briny half-melted feta, and the faint heat of the seeded red chiles is balanced by the coolness of fresh mint.
It's like there's a toga party in your mouth, and everyone's invited.
As good as they are straight up and unadorned, they're even better with a dollop of the sour cream dipping sauce, which provides both a cool counterpoint to the hot fritters and a hint of bright acidity that makes the flavours shine. Even the most hardened zucchini hater couldn't possibly turn these away.
And while I can't speak for all the zucchini lovers, I know I could eat an entire plate of these for dinner, with nothing more than a crusty chunk of bread and a cold beer.
In fact, I just might.
Zucchini Fritters with Feta, Mint and Chili
- Yield: 4 1x
Inspired by a classic Greek recipe, these golden-brown fritters are a delicious way to deal with an overabundance of zucchini. Serve them as an appetizer or as a meat-free main dish for a summer dinner party.
- 3 medium zucchini, coarsely grated (around 3 cups)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup sweet peas (fresh or frozen)
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- ½ cup chopped green onion
- 1 red hot chili pepper, seeded and finely minced
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- Canola oil (for frying)
- ½ cup sour cream or plain yogurt
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- Toss zucchini and ½ teaspoon salt in a large mesh colander. Let stand for 10 minutes, then squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the grated zucchini with remaining ingredients (except for canola oil), and stir to combine into a thick batter. If the batter looks runny, add some more flour, a couple of tablespoons at a time, until it reaches the consistency of a thick muffin batter.
- In a large skillet set over medium heat, heat 2 tbsp canola oil. Drop generous spoonfuls of batter (~2 tbsp each) into the hot oil and gently flatten into thick patties. Fry until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked fritters to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Repeat this process with the remaining batter, adding more oil to the pan as needed. Serve hot or at room temperature.
- To make dipping sauce, stir together sour cream (or yogurt) with smoked paprika until combined. Spoon into a pretty dish and serve alongside the fritters.
Hi Isabelle, I totally agree with you overcooked veggies are nasty. Zucchinis, Asparagus ewwww!!! But cooked properly zucchinis are one of my favorite vegetables. I love then thinly sliced and roasted in the oven and zucchinis fritters are pure yumminess.
Loved all the herbs you used, they look delish. Have a great weekend girl. It's finally Friday...yuuurruull!!! :-)
Russell van Kraayenburg says
I'm a lover too! The mint sounds like a fascinating addition. I've learned some new things here. I've had some hit or miss recipes and often have wondered why sometimes it just turns out yucky. Now I know! And now I'm craving zucchini.
Kitchen Vignettes says
I heart zuchini! And I have a particularly delightful memory of zuchini-mint combo from the south of Italy, it was a preserve of paper thin sliced zuchini in olive oil and mint,and maybe vinegar, can't remember, but I will never forget how delicious the mint and zuchini were together. I'll definitely be making your delicious-looking fritters very soon!
Magic of Spice says
I adore zucchini and I am loving these fritters...fantastic recipe!
Dan @ Dan's Good Side says
I seriously LOVE zucchini fritters/pancakes. So delicious, I even have them for breakfast sometimes. Does that make me weird? Probably, but I know you appreciate this undying zucch love! ;)
Choosy Beggar Tina says
Oh yes, I am a lover too! Thankfully my husband is a zucchini lover, although he quickly turns into a zucchini hater by August when I've been feeding him zucchini in every meal for 2 months. That said, anything fried or involving feta and he is on board, so this might be on my "must make" list this weekend!
Tres Delicious says
A zucchini fritters? I think I will like the uniqueness of this fritters. It's somewhat interesting.
[email protected] says
Isabelle....I'm on the fence about zucchini. It's not that I don't like the taste of them. It's one of those vegetables that I can't seem to be creative enough with. But I love the idea of these fritters! It's almost like a crab cake only with veggies! And your idea of settling down to these with a cold beer and a chunk of bread is just perfect! : )
I love zucchini and this recipe! What is even better is that we are growing most of the ingredients in our garden this year, I can't wait to try it, thanks for sharing!
This is my favourite courgette recipe and I love that you added peas into the mix! I was out taking pictures of courgettes growing in the fields today and a farmer caught me, so embarrassing trying to explain that I wasn't stealing I was just taking pictures!! I can't resist I'm making these for dinner tonight, YUM!
Ha. I can just picture how confused that poor farmer must have been at the crazy lady taking pictures of his courgettes. :)
Totally sounds like something I'd do, BTW.
Fried veggie pancakes like this always kind of remind me of latkes...but these are like latkes' blond, toned, breezy California cousin. So gorgeous, kind of the same, but wayyy cooler. Yum! :-)
I love this analogy. LOVE.
I love your addition of mint here...I bet it adds a very unique dimension to this fritter. Looks fabulous!
Pretend Chef says
These sound and look so delicious. I bet the flavor is outstanding. I am the only zucchini lover in my household so more for me. Yummy!
[email protected]'s Kitchen says
I'm definitely in the zucchini-lovers camp, even the overcooked limp ones turn me on! LOL, I like the way they taste and having them FRIED into lovely fritters like these is one of the more brilliant ideas I've come across this week!
I have been making zucchini fritters for breakfast lately. But of course, as you know, I have way too much zucchini. I am going to try your recipe, sounds lovely.
As it happens, this recipe was partially inspired by those awesome zucchini fritters from your birthday party. I honestly was craving those for DAYS afterwards.
Yes, my name is Isabelle, and I'm a zucchini-fritter-aholic. :)
Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. says
Oh wow! These look so yummy! I love zucchini!
I'm a lover too! And with the mint?!?!? This sounds like a wonderful summer lunch!
[email protected] says
I just made zucchini fritters, and yours look waaaay better than the ones I tried. I may have to take a 2nd stab at it and try it with your recipe!
Hester Casey @ Alchemy in the Kitchen says
Zucchini? I'm in the LOVE 'EM camp. Lovely combination of flavours and a perfect way to make inroads into the seasonal glut!
Viviane Bauquet Farre says
Isabelle, what a fantastic creation! Just the right flavors! Also, I quite liked your talk on zucchini. Unfortunately, a lot of people are exposed to terribly prepared zucchini and it, understandably, ruins their appetite for this fantastic vegetable. I suppose its up to us cooks to change their minds!
I think it's our civic duty as food bloggers to convince people to give under-appreciated ingredients a second chance. (Though I have yet to convince The Boy to enjoy broccoli or brussels sprouts, no matter how many different preparations I try.)