Madame Saisons: Putting On The Fritts
by Sarah Ugazio
March is a magical month when it comes to food. While technically Autumn, it really should be a special season unto itself and more aptly named “Late Summer”.
Colourful crops have been soaking up the sun through summer and now bulge with ripeness. Apricots, peaches, berries and tomatoes hang heavy with sweetness; flavoursome herbs are flourishing; and juicy melons lie in wait to reveal their vibrant inner flesh. It’s nature’s encore summer act – a final performance of bright colours and bursting flavours before many leaves fold away from sun to soil.
The plant kingdom is not alone in making the most of the last stretch of warmth before the inevitable seasonal hiatus shifts our gears from heat to hibernation. Weekends beckon us to brunch and enjoy the outdoors, still pleasant for a picnic. While weekdays are ramping up, with kids back at school and the work year in full swing. This is no time to be toiling by the stove – we want it fresh (while we can) and we want it fast. However looking for fast creative ways to make the most seasonal fare can prove challenging at the best of times.
Salads and sides can be enhanced with the textural delight of crunchy cucumbers, asparagus, snow and sugar peas; while cooling mint or peppery nasturtium leaves can add pops of fresh flavour. But a truly fabulous way to exploit late summer fare is the humble fritter. Broadly defined as any fried batter concoction, heavily battered and deep-fried versions may get you a pant size up or intro to a cardiologist, but simple pan-fried options are a great healthy way to up your veg.
Flavour combinations are endless, with corn and/or zucchini being popular options on many café menus. However one shouldn’t be afraid to prepare these tasty patties at home and experiment with different ingredients. Grated or crumbled cheese will notch up both texture and flavour, while playing around with spices and herbs will help you nail your own perfect recipe.
Fritters can be enjoyed at brunch, lunch or as a quick mid week dinner. Even more amazing is they’re a great way to use up leftover vegetables AND are totally freezable up to 3 months once fried – simply reheat from frozen on a baking tray in a 100°C oven. ■
Herbed Zucchini Fritters with Feta
Serves 4 (3 fritters each)
- 500g Zucchini (about two medium) trimmed
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 large Egg, beaten
- 3 Spring onions, finely sliced
- 2 tbs Dill, chopped finely
- 1 tbs Mint, chopped finely
- 75g Goats feta, crumbled
- 1 clove Garlic, minced
- 60g Plain Flour
- ½ tsp Baking Powder
- ¼ tsp Cumin
- To Taste Tasmanian Sea Salt, cracked black pepper
- To Fry Olive oil or butter
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grate the zucchini into a colander set over a bowl. Toss the salt gently through the zucchini and set aside for 15 mins, stirring occasionally (salting helps the zucchini to release its water). Sift the flour with the baking powder and cumin. Firmly squeeze the remaining excess water out of the zucchini using your hands (try to get mix as dry as possible). Add egg, spring onions, herbs, feta, garlic, salt and pepper to the zucchini and stir through. Incorporate flour mix well into batter. Heat oil or butter in a heavy based pan and spoon a heaped tablespoons of the zucchini mix in to pan. Fry on each side until golden brown (approx 3 minutes each side). Keep fritters resting on a wire rack in the oven until ready to serve. Serve with lemon wedges or tzatziki.
Follow Sarah on Instagram at @madamesaisons