I’m waiting on a call from the vet to find out if my beloved fourteen-year-old kitty has lymphoma or not. While I’m well aware that my unpleasant situation is hardly unique, and that the world keeps turning anyways, and that TRUE ADULTING is recognizing that, the truth is that my brain is pretty scrambled and I’m hoping it’s okay to write some fluffy crap about vegetable fritters instead of my usual content.
So I love veggie fritters (or patties, or latkes, or pancakes, or whatever nomenclature you prefer) because they allow you to pretend that little crispy, fried crunches of goodness are actually wholesome. Because vegetables. When I spotted a recipe that turns yellow summer squash into fritters, I immediately added it to my To Cook queue.
I probably shouldn’t, but I struggle with zucchini and yellow squash, especially the latter. It’s slimy! It’s weirdly sweet! I don’t love it. But I figured frittering would coax its more lovable qualities to the surface, or at least downplay its flaws. Ultimately I was correct, but things got worse before they got better.
The initial recipe wouldn’t work for me. Probably a typo – shit happens. The batter was too loose and the fritters wouldn’t hold together. I was frantically scooping out stray squash bits from the oil before they burned and stunk the kitchen up. The flavor was undeniable, but I knew I couldn’t blog it like that. Too frustrating.
So I researched a few veggie fritter recipes online, and added flour to the original recipe. Not one to let a single variable tell a story, I also added a bit more oil to the pan. First and foremost, it was way too much oil. They puffed up like doughnuts, which was not the goal. The batter was also full-on breakfast pancake with a few flecks of shredded squash running through, which muddled the flavor – also not the goal. There were words, and then let’s just say the evening ended with Popeye’s and a Negroni. That’s… a weird combination. I’m here to spare you.
More research, less oil, and a third try. At last: sweet success. The original recipe contained too much liquid, including from eggs. I scaled back the liquid, added flour and baking powder, kept the delicious flavor, and got what I wanted all along: a fully crispy, hash-brown-esque summer squash fritter. It had a satisfying crunch, the perfect brownness, and the batter was mostly summer squash with just enough flour and egg to bind the shreds together. We piled on the cucumber tzatziki, which was perfect from Attempt #1, and commenced horfing.
Now I happily share my failure-turned-success with you! This will certainly become a summer favorite over here; I hope you enjoy them too.
Summer Squash Fritters with Cucumber Tzatziki
- 1 large cucumber (I used the English variety), ends snipped off
- 1 ¼ cups plain Greek yogurt
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tsp minced fresh dill
- ¾ tsp distilled white vinegar
- Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- 2 large yellow summer squash
- 1 large egg, beaten
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tbs chopped fresh basil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- Canola oil, for frying
- Make this first. Grate the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater. Place the shredded cucumber in cheesecloth or several layers of paper towels and squeeze to wring almost dry. Add to a small mixing bowl, along with yogurt, garlic, dill, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Refrigerate while you make the fritters.
- Rinse the box grater under water, but you don’t have to thoroughly clean it. Just get the flecks of cucumber off. Dry it, then snip the end off the squash. Grate them on the large holes of the box grater as you did the cucumber. Place the shreds in a cheesecloth or paper towels and squeeze to wring mostly dry. Add to a large mixing bowl, along with beaten egg, flour, baking powder, Parmesan, basil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mix together until a uniform batter forms.
- Pour oil into a large skillet. You want it to come up around ½ an inch up the sides - you’re looking for not enough oil to deep fry, but a little more than a simple pan fry. Heat over medium-high heat until it registers 350 F on a candy thermometer. If you don’t have one, you can test with a drop of batter. It should sizzle right away but not immediately brown.
- Once the oil is ready, add the batter in whatever size spoonful you like. I just used a cereal spoon. Use the back of the spoon to flatten and if you want, shape the fritters into circles. You can see I don’t really mess with that kind of thing, I let the fritters be themselves. You can cook the fritters in batches, but space them at least one inch apart. You’ll likely need two to three batches to cook them all.
- Let them go 3 to 4 minutes per side. Use a slotted spatula to transfer them to a paper towel lined plate. Serve immediately with the Cucumber Tzatziki.