Zucchini and Parmesan Fritters with Spicy (or not) Tomato Sauce

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Serves 6
Credit: Anne Burrell
Originally from August 2014 on my old blog

I’ve been wanting to make these for a long time (long meaning at least two years) but somehow I always ended up cooking something else. Even after just making the batter and having a little spoonful of the raw stuff, I could tell these were going to be amazing. I’m actually not a big zucchini fan, but my neighbors have  huge garden and whenever there’s overflow they drop off a bag or two of vegetables for us to use. And that day, it was lots and lots of zucchini. And either way, anything made into a fritter is going to be good, really good; that’s just a given.

A lot of people are scared of deep frying. I personally will come up with any excuse to deep fry. Many think you need all this high tech gear to deep fry, like a deep fryer, or a deep frying thermometer, or a wire rack, but all you really need is a heavy, deep pan and paper towels to drain.

For the fritters-

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, cut into a ½-inch dice
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 zucchini, cut into a ½-inch dice
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ to ½ cup whole milk
  • Peanut or other neutral-flavored oil, for frying

For the tomato sauce-

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, cut into ½-inch dice
  • Large pinch of crushed red pepper (if you want it spicy; I didn’t use it)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, pureed

For the sauce:

Coat a large saucepan with olive oil, add the onion and red pepper, and bring to medium-high heat. Season with salt and cook until the onion is soft and aromatic, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the tomatoes and stir to combine. Taste and season with more salt and red pepper if needed. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens, 15 to 20 minutes. Remember, it’s a dipping sauce, so you want it thick and highly seasoned. When it has been reduced down to your liking, remove from the heat and set aside.

For the fritters:

Coat a large saute pan with olive oil, add the onions, season with salt, and bring the pan to medium-high heat. Cook until the onions are soft and aromatic, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the zucchini, season with salt, and cook for another 7 to 8 minutes, or until the zucchini is soft and beginning to color around the edges. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, Parmesan, and baking powder. Add the zucchini and onions to the bowl and stir until just combined. Add the milk gradually (you may not need it all) and stir to combine. You want a very thick batter; don’t worry about the lumps.

Pour the oil into a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium high-heat; the oil should come 1 ½ to 2 inches up the sides of the pan. While the oil heats, set up a couple plates lined with paper towels; you will place the cooked fritters here to drain after being fried. To see if the oil id hot enough, drop a little ball of batter into it. If it sizzles and floats quickly, you’re good to go. If the batter burns or begins to smoke, reduce the heat.

Drop 1-inch balls of dough into the hot oil without overcrowding the pan; you’re going to have to work in batches. When the fritters turn nicely browned all over, about 3 minutes, remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. If the fritters begin to brown too quickly, turn down the heat; if they don’t sizzle when dropped in, turn the heat up.

When all the fritters are done, serve with the warmed tomato sauce and some grated Parmesan on top.

Happy dining!!


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