I’ve always gotten a kick out of stories of massive Zucchini crops suddenly emerging in August and causing their growers to wonder what on earth to do with all of them. When I was in Elementary School, I distinctly remember a classmate whose mother’s solution was to send her son armed with enormous bags of Zucchini to school each day. He was quite systematic in his giving. He would go to a different teacher’s classroom every day and deposit a bag on her desk, beaming. The first teacher was overwhelmed with his mother’s largesse. But by the end of the week the last teacher was simply overwhelmed, likely because Teachers #1, 2, 3 and 4 had already shared the bounty of Gordon’s mother’s garden with all their fellow teachers. Did she go home and make Zucchini bread? Or Zucchini pickles? I can’t help but hope that she made Zucchini Fritters because undoubtedly Gordon and his well-intentioned mother would have been forgiven. These wonderful cakes, fried to a crisp, are an American classic. Did you know that Crab Cakes are actually fritters? And while you can make them with everything from apples to pineapples to peas, the season’s bumper crop of Zucchini and Corn make an irresistible fritter. Especially when freshly grated Parmesan cheese is added to the batter.
That’s what I made one night last week. We were having a round of houseguests this weekend and there seemed to be no limit as to how much food we were going to consume. So anything I could do in advance was as welcomed as our guests. I admit to a little trepidation in making something on a Wednesday that was going to have to hold out until Friday but my fritters came through with flying colors. I completed the whole recipe, which yields 24 good-sized fritters. Andrew and I taste-tested them with our Wednesday night steak dinner and pronounced them delicious. I refrigerated the rest between sheets of paper towel in a airtight container. On Friday, I put them all on wire racks set atop sheet pans, turned the oven up to 375 degrees and in about 12 minutes, they were bubbling crisp in the oven and ready to serve. They were a huge hit with our guests. Dolloped with sour cream, they all disappeared in no time. Here is the recipe which takes very little time and yields something you will truly be proud of.
Recipe for Zucchini Corn and Parmesan Fritters
Prep Time 25 Minutes. Cooking Time 20 minutes. Makes 24 3 inch fritters.
3 medium zucchini, coarsely shredded
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 white onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 ears corn, kernels cut off
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-teaspoon baking soda
Freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs
Vegetable oil, for frying
Toss the zucchini with 1-teaspoon salt in a bowl; let stand 10 minutes. Wrap the zucchini in a kitchen towel and squeeze dry.
2. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
3. Whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk the buttermilk and egg in a large bowl, then stir in the corn-onion mixture and zucchini. Add the cornmeal mixture and stir until just combined.
4. Heat about 1/8 inch vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, scoop scant 1/4 cupfuls of the batter into the oil and use the back of the measuring cup to flatten the scoops. Cook until the fritters are golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.
NOTE: You can make the fritters up to 2 days ahead; refrigerate fritters in an airtight container, reheat in a 375 degrees F oven on a rack set on a baking sheet for about 12 minutes.