26 July 2013

Bring on the Zucchini! Fritters

My neighbors are already "gifting" me their overgrown zucchini, which is not so much a gift as a social burden.  Apartment dwellers can preach all they want about my ungratefulness, but until you have lived in a neighborhood in which everyone digs up their yards every spring and plants whatever is easiest to grow (hint: it's zucchini!), you will never truly understand how much it sucks to see your neighbor making his way across the front yard with an armful of the stuff.  It would be a treat if it came once or twice per season, but everyone has too much zucchini, and everyone wants to dump it on their neighbors.  And so, every August I have to get creative because a) I hate wasting food, but b) zucchini bread gets really old, really fast.  In fact, it was never that good to begin with.

I love anything fried, and I have often enjoyed it as a temporary cure for late-summer zucchini infestations, but it's not the healthiest thing in the world, and it still suffers from blandness without a whole lot of seasoning in the breading.  These fritters (really, little zucchini "hash browns") are baked and enjoy little pops of saltiness from diced feta and kalamata olives.  You can eat them as a snack, stack them up with fresh tomatoes, or use them as a substitute for the little dry hunk of meat you were planning on serving for dinner with your rice or pasta.  I like to top them with a little plain yogurt mixed with a smashed garlic clove and salt to taste; my husband slathers his in hot sauce.

Baked Zucchini Fritters

Makes 12

2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 zucchinis)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons diced feta cheese
1 tablespoon roughly chopped kalamata olives
¼ cup all-purpose flour (or add a protein punch with garbanzo flour)
¼ cup breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and red pepper flakes to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
After grating the zucchini, sprinkle with a little salt and place in a colander for at least 15 minutes to drain. When ready to use, squeeze out the excess liquid by handfuls before adding to the mixture.
In a medium bowl mix the grated zucchini, garlic, feta, olives, flour, breadcrumbs, egg, oregano, salt and pepper until thoroughly combined.

Form the zucchini mixture into twelve patties (six per baking sheet) using a ¼ cup of the mixture to form cakes, then flatten slightly into patties (see photo, above). Place patties on the prepared baking sheets and bake on one side for 18-20 minutes or until golden. Flip the patties and bake for another 10-15 minutes.