bumper crop

A simple meal for any time of year: zucchini fritters, pan-roasted potatoes, and herb & olive oil sauce.

zucchini fritters

Shred one good-sized zucchini. (I use a mandoline, but you could use a box grater; cleaner cuts make the final product less watery, so grated zucchini will need to be drained or squeezed a bit.)

Beat one egg in a medium bowl. Optional: press in one clove of garlic.

Toss zucchini with seasoned flour: two or three big spoonfuls of flour mixed with cumin, oregano, pepper, cayenne, nutmeg, whatever strikes your fancy. Rosemary is a nice variation. Sometimes I put in a pinch of baking powder to lighten the whole thing.

In well-seasoned or non-stick pan, heat a small pat of butter or a splash of oil over medium-high heat.

Mix zucchini with egg and a good bit of salt. Toss until everything’s mixed, then spoon into the oiled pan, heaping up the zucchini and gently pushing it into rough fritter-shapes. I usually cook two or three of these in a standard saute pan. You can instead fill the pan and make a zucchini frittata, but I like the smaller, darker fritters; more surface area means more flavor.

I often cover the pan loosely with a cookie sheet or a lid propped open to cook the fritters through without steaming them into floppiness. (When you bite into a fritter and find it soft inside, don’t worry: that’s not raw egg, but creamy-tender cooked zucchini.)

When the first side turns a deep rich brown, flip, and cook the second side. Serve immediately or, if necessary, hold briefly in a warm oven.

[Yeah, yeah: properly speaking, these aren’t fritters. If you made a thicker batter, you could deep-fry or shallow-fry them, and they’d be delicious proper fritters. I take the easy way out and they’re fantastic improper fritters. Mmm, improper fritters.]

pan-roasted potatoes

[If you’re serving these with zucchini fritters, start the potatoes first. They’re very simple; the secret ingredient is time.]

Scrub and dry several high- or medium-starch potatoes. Cut into large wedges — sixths or eighths — and sprinkle generously with kosher salt.

In a large heavy frying pan, melt a pat or butter over medium-high heat and heat until the foam subsides, then add a small splash of olive oil. Lay the potato wedges in the pan and partially cover with cookie sheet or propped-open lid; you want to cook the potatoes through but allow steam to escape.

Turn down the heat to medium… and wait. Go sit down. Have a drink. After a leisurely wait, check the potatoes. You’re looking for a deep brown, slightly blistered surface. (If your stovetop heats unevenly like mine, you’ll need to re-arrange the wedges to get them equally brown.) Flip to cook the other side.

herb & olive oil sauce

I make this sauce whenever I buy a bunch of parsley. It’s a great use of the big bunch that would otherwise sit in my fridge quietly turning yellow.

How much parsley do you have left over? That’s how much you need for this recipe. Rinse parsley and dry well. Chop or tear coarsely, breaking stems into short lengths. Take a few of the leafy tops and chop them fine; reserve.

Plunk the parsley (except the reserved leaves) into the blender* and pour over it a glug of extra virgin olive oil. If you have a special bottle of olive oil, this is a good time to use it. The sauce is very simple and the best ingredients make it sing.

Add a generous squeeze of lemon juice.

Add any or all of the following:
– a strip of lemon zest
– a few capers, rinsed and drained
– fresh-ground pepper
– a very few leaves of basil or dill or any other fresh herb you have kicking around
– chili powder or cayenne
– a hint of oregano, fresh or dried
– a tiny tiny tiny bit of minced garlic; the garlic flavor will become more pronounced as the sauce sits, so tread lightly

Blend until roughly pureed, pushing mixture down the sides as necessary. If necessary, add more oil. You want this mixture just liquid enough to blend; too much oil will produce a thin sauce.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Unless you’ve added a lot of capers, it will almost certainly need salt. I like kosher salt for its clean flavor.

Stir in the reserved parsley, which gives the finished sauce a pleasant texture. You can serve this immediately or refrigerate it in a clean, tightly capped jar. It will keep nicely for several days; for safety, it should be discarded after ten days, but you’ll use it up long before then. It’s bright and tart and fresh-grassy-green tasting, a fantastic foil for earthy or tangy flavors.

Serve it with pan-roasted potatoes or zucchini fritters, drizzle it over frittata, spread it on sandwiches, mix it into yogurt cheese, pour it over goat cheese for a lickety-split fancy appetizer with crackers and veggies. When I have a jar of herb & oil sauce in the fridge, I find endless uses for it.

*My dirty little secret: I use the Magic Bullet for this and for many other simple little kitchen tasks. I mocked The Fella over his yearning for a Magic Bullet, but then his parents handed down their little-used model. It turns out I’m the one who uses it almost daily.

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