Zucchini Fritters with Herbed Lemon Ricotta

I realize we’re long past zucchini season here in Kansas.  But the weather has been nice (in the 50s and 60s) these last few weeks, and I’m getting restless.  I can see spring on the horizon and all the fresh fruits and vegetables that fill the farmer’s markets soon after.  I’m not really one for the heaviness and heartiness that usually comes with cold weather foods.  I much prefer the lightness and freshness of spring and summer – the recipes we make when it’s too warm outside to run the oven for and hour or two.  The salads, bruschettas, simple pizzas and sandwiches.

Which I guess explains why, in the middle of January – most decidedly winter – I determined that zucchini was the ideal grocery store purchase.  It’s been a weird winter here so far.  Only a couple flurries of snow and temperatures more suited to October than January.  But I’ll take it.  if it means I can trick myself into believing that zucchini in January is perfectly appropriate.  But even if that’s not entirely admissible – it has citrus.  And that’s all about winter.  Right?

Zucchini Fritters with Herbed Lemon Ricotta
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 8-10 fritters, depending on size

For the Fritters:
4 medium zucchini
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 to 1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons oil, for cooking

For the Ricotta:
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
juice from half a large lemon
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Begin by shredding chopping off the ends of the zucchini and shredding it either with a box grater or a food processor.  Add the salt to the shredded zucchini and let it sit for ten minutes.  Squeeze the water out using cheesecloth or a clean dish towel.  Let it set a minute or two and wring it out again.  The more water you can get out, the better.  Zucchini holds a lot of water and if too much remains in the batter, it will create a soggy interior.  After wringing as much liquid out of the zucchini as you can, taste it and add more salt if needed.

In a large bowl, mix together the zucchini, egg, black pepper and 3/4 to 1 cup all-purpose flour, depending on how much liquid remains in your zucchini.  If you want even more lemony goodness, add a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice to the batter and stir to combine all ingredients.

Add approximately two Tablespoons oil to a large skillet over medium heat.  Shape the batter into 2 1/2 to 3 inch pucks and pan fry until the bottoms are golden brown and a little crispy.  Turn over and cook the other side until browned.

Heat oven to 200 degrees F.  Place the browned fritters on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes to finish setting.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, lemon juice, thyme, rosemary and salt and pepper.  Set aside.

After the fritters have cooked, top them with the ricotta mixture and sprinkle on some fresh herbs, if desired.

These are best served hot.

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