Seasonal Chef: Perfecting a Summer Vegetable Fritter

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We’ve just past the midway point of summer and the farmers market and CSA baskets are overflowing with beautiful ingredients. This week I found zucchini, yellow squash, corn and tomatoes. Tomatoes are coming on strong, but more on them next week. With an abundance of zucchini and corn I decided to create a fritter. (Or, is it a pancake? I’ll let you decide!) Before we get the batter part, lets talk about the vegetables.

Corn

First things first: look for corn that has a smooth, moist husk. If it’s crackly and dry, your corn is old. It should have a nice heft and the silk should look soft and fresh. Your zucchini should have a nice smooth, firm skin. If there are any soft, brown moldy spots put it down and look for another one. If you are not using them right away wrap loosely in a paper towel, place in thin produce bag, and store in the ‘fridge crisper bin.

Draining zucchini and corn for a fritter by Seasonal Chef Maria Reina

In my early attempts to make this dish I found that the fritter was soggy and the flavors muddled. I wanted to be able to taste each component so the best way to do that was prepare each separately. All three vegetables inherently have a lot of water, though corn has the least. Using a box grater to prep the zucchini and corn worked beautifully. A good sharp knife will make short order of the tomato, for a nice dice.

Fritter batter

The second part of this recipe is the batter. I tried a lot of different combinations using all-purpose flour, corn meal, gluten free flour, egg, flax seed, with baking power and without. In the end the base recipe that worked the best with my vegetable combo came from the master: Mark Bittman. Starting with his corn fritter recipe from the How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, I added a little spice to give it some kick.

Corn, Zucchini and Tomato Fritter batter by Seasonal Chef Maria Reina

Before adding in the vegetables make a tiny pancake first to taste it, and then adjust the seasoning. I should also note that you can easily swap the all-purpose flour with Namaste Gluten Free Flour Blend, and it works like a dream. The fine grind cornmeal I have, and use, is from Wild Hive Farm. You can also use Bob’s Red Mill or Arrowhead Mills. Just look for fine grind. The goal is to enhance the corn flavor, but not complete with the vegetables in texture.

At the very end, before you start frying them, add your fresh basil and lemon zest. I used the same pan I cooked the onions and garlic in, that being a non-stick. Save yourself a lot of hassle and use that type of pan.

The last part of the dish is a little topping. I ended up making these three times, for three different people, and each while they liked them, felt it needed a “little something” on top. My best version used cottage cheese. Whipped in a food processor until smooth with a little lemon juice and seasoning, then hand blend in the fresh basil. Resist the urge to drop the basil in the processor, as it will turn the topping pale green. It’s nice to have it white with green speckles.

Corn, Zucchini and Tomato Fritter by Seasonal Chef Maria Reina

 

All in all this was a fun experiment, and start to finish pretty fast, and very easy. While the zucchini and tomatoes drain you are doing other things, so the time goes quickly. Click this link to see the recipe: Summer Vegetable Fritter.

Mark your calendar for few upcoming dates: Next Tuesday, August 18, I will be appearing on “Fork This” with Intoxikate from 1:00-2:00 pm. On Friday, August 21, I will be doing my last summer afternoon Farm Stand Cooking ClassThen on September 25th I will be back at Hilltop Hanover Farm for an evening cooking class. The link has not been posted, so check my web site in early September, or on my Seasonal Chef column that week.

A last quick note to remember a special birthday this week: Julia Child would have been 103 on Saturday. She was, and continues to be, an inspiration to me. I am fond of referring to my husband as my “own Paul Child.” Like hers, mine supports my cooking endeavors in so many ways, be it lugging the tent to the farmers market demos, making my signs, washing pots and pans and enduring endless tastings of recipes – just as Paul did for Julia. Grazie a mio marito.

Buon Appetito.

One year ago: Using Chocolate Mint
Two years ago: Throwdown Peach Competition
Three years ago: Summer Squash

 

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About Author

Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She's an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmer's markets, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook (Bella Cucina Maria), Twitter (Bellacucinam), Instagram (Bellacucinam) and Pinterest (Bellacucinam).

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