Zucchini fritters

A fantastic vegetarian dinner option, zucchini and haloumi fritters with mint and dill.

Remember the time-consuming but delicious zucchini gratin? Jasper has been requesting it with increasing desperation over the last few weeks but I just didn’t have the emotional fortitude or stamina to go there. I’m blaming the relentless heat and humidity over these past months.

So when I saw a Neil Perry recipe for zucchini fritters on the SMH website I hoped I’d struck a middle ground. I’ve added some mint to my recipe and would encourage you to do the same.

These were an absolute sensation, heading straight to the pool room of family dinner winners. You could even make smaller ones as a finger food option. Don’t think the yoghurt sauce is optional – as is always the case when there’s a sauce on the side it lifts the meal from yum to YUM!

zucchini fritter mixture

Zucchini fritters
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A fantastic vegetarian dinner option
Author:
Serves: 18+ fritters
Ingredients
  • 1 kg zucchini, grated
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 200 g haloumi cheese, grated
  • 100 g stale white breadcrumbs
  • 1 heaped tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs
For the yoghurt sauce
  • 1 cup thick Greek yoghurt
  • Grated zest from half a lemon
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • pinch of sea salt
Instructions
For the fritters
  1. Using a food processor grate the zucchinis then toss with the salt in a colander and set in the sink to drain for an hour.
  2. Use the same grater blade to grate the haloumi which you're going to then tip into a mixing bowl
  3. Change the attachment and blitz your stale bread into fine breadcrumbs
  4. Mix the haloumi, breadcrumbs and herbs together while you wait for the zucchini
  5. In the meantime, make the yoghurt sauce by mixing the four ingredients together
  6. After an hour or so, squeeze as much liquid out of the zucchini as you can. When you think you've squeezed it all out go in for another round
  7. Mix the zucchini and the eggs in with the other ingredients
  8. You want to work quickly now
  9. Heat some oil in a pan, you want to shallow fry them, then shape the mixture into patties a bit bigger than a golf ball. You can really make them as big or as small as you like
  10. Cook for about two minutes on either side or until golden brown
  11. Serve with the yoghurt sauce.

 

 

 

Zucchini gratin

A beautiful bake of zucchini, rice and cheese

Sometimes you make something that forces you to slow down. For me that normally involves baking and I love it. You can’t rush yeast, a cake needs time, dough wants methodical kneading, pastry asks for, well, everything.

So I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and while I am not the greatest fan of zucchini I needed to make it instantly. What I didn’t realise was it was going to force me to go slow and follow a number of steps. I am, in reality, a much more ‘bung it all in and hope for the best’ cook.

Salting the zucchini
Salting the zucchini

It’s based on a Julia Child recipe and while I own her voluminous Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volumes 1 and 2 I have never cooked from them. So I was, in effect, uninitiated.

You have no choice but to slow down but I was making it for dinner so didn’t want to slow down and got a bit cranky with the whole thing. Salting zucchinis, par-boiling rice, slowly sweating off onions, it doesn’t sound like much but for a weeknight #everyfuckingnight it was frustrating.

Stupidly labour and saucepan intensive zucchini gratin ready for the oven
Stupidly labour and saucepan intensive zucchini gratin ready for the oven

But dagnammit it tasted out of this world which annoyed me even more (and everyone except Felix inhaled it). So my advice is definitely make it but go into it with patience, a willingness to wash up a lot and the knowledge you will be handsomely rewarded.

Voila! Zucchini gratin for #everyfuckingnight (and probably never again).
Voila! Zucchini gratin for #everyfuckingnight (and probably never again).

Zucchini gratin
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1.1kg zucchini
  • 1½ tsp of salt
  • ½ cup white rice
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tblsp olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tblsp plain flour
  • Milk, as needed, although broth of your choice would work just fine
  • ⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • Butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200C and put your oven rack in the top third of your oven
Prepare the zucchini
  1. Halve lengthwise, and if seeds are particularly large, core them out. Grate using a food processor unless you're a masochist and want to do it by hand
  2. Place in a colander set over a bowl. Toss with kosher salt then let drain (according to Julia Child for 5 minutes). I weighted it and drained it for 30 minutes. Don't throw the liquid away
  3. Squeeze a little bit out and taste it. If it's really overly salty (mine was) rinse it under the tap and squeeze out (this water you don't save).
  4. Squeeze all of the zucchini in handfuls collecting the juices into the bowl of drained liquid. You really want to squeeze it out so you don't have soggy gratin.
Prepare rice
  1. Bring to the boil for just 5 minutes then drain and set aside.
Prepare the rest
  1. In a large frying pan, cook the onions slowly in 3 tablespoons oil for 8 to 10 minutes until tender and translucent.
  2. Raise heat slightly and stir several minutes until very lightly browned.
  3. Stir in the grated and dried zucchini and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes
  4. Sprinkle in the flour, stir over moderate heat for 2 minutes, and remove from heat.
Assemble dish
  1. Measure the drained liquid from the zucchini. You want 2½ cups. I got that exactly (skill!) but if you don't add some milk to make up the difference.
  2. Stir into zucchini-onion mixture, return pan to stove over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the rice and all but 2 tablespoons cheese (I added all the cheese then sprinkled extra over the top because, cheese.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  5. Pour into a baking dish, sprinkle over more cheese and dot with butter
  6. Bake for 30 minutes (if it's browning too quickly cover with foil then uncover again for the last 5 minutes.

 

Onward.

In a pickle, part 1: quick, easy, tasty zucchini pickles

I have a thing for pickles. Maybe this is why we had four children, so I had a fairly predictable excuse for the outrageous number of pickled items I would consume. Yeah, that’s it. Offensive levels of fertility and general laziness come carelessness had nothing to do with it whatsoever. That and we really just wanted a girl. Let’s just perpetuate as many myths as possible.

So, I had this recipe from an Australian Gourmet Traveller hanging around on the kitchen bench for pretty much most of last year, maybe longer and in fact thought I’d tossed it in a recent purge of ripped out recipes but no! Score! It was still there, testament to my love of the pickle.

Make these. They’re easy and taste DIVINE. I am making burgers this week just to have these on them. And also buying some lovely crumbly vintage cheddar – these are perfect for that. I doubled the recipe below so these photos are of a kilo of zucchinis. I also only had a smidge of cider vinegar so used bog standard white vinegar. Worked a treat. (1kg of zucchinis gave me 7x325ml jars which I loosely packed – and I didn’t need any more liquid to cover.)

Pickled Zucchinis

From Australian Gourmet Traveller from Neil Perry, Rockpool Bar & Grill who lifted it from San Fransico’s Zuni Cafe

  • 500g zucchinis, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2tbsp fine sea salt
  • 500ml ice-cold water
  • 500ml cider vinegar
  • 220g (1cup) caster sugar
  • 2tsp mustard powder
  • 2tsp yellow mustard seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1tsp tumeric
  1. Combine the zucchini, onion, salt and water and stand for 1 hour.

  2. Combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard powder, seeds and tumeric in a saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 2 minutes and then cool to room temperature. (Make sure it is completely cooled before pouring over the zucchinis as if it’s still warm it will make your pickles soggy.)
  3. Drain the zucchini and onion and pat dry on absorbent paper then put back into the bowl with the cider mixture and stir to combine.  



  4. Transfer to sterile jars and add a bit of water to cover if necessary. Seal and refrigerate for two days to pickle. They’ll keep, refrigerated, for at least three weeks.