As any gardener who’s ever bedded in a courgette plant in spring, fondly imagining they’ll make a couple of chargrilled Ottolenghi salads, will testify, they’re fecund little things – a happy courgette plant will produce more green offspring than even Yotam has recipes for. Well, perhaps not, but sometimes simple is good, too, especially when eaten hot from the pan, and preferably with your fingers.
Prep 10 min Drain 30 min + Cook 20 min Makes 10
500g courgettes ½ tsp sea salt 40g plain flour ½ tsp baking powder 20g fine polenta or cornmeal (see step 3) 4 spring onions 2 eggs, beaten Nutmeg 15g fresh herbs of your choice (optional) – I like dill 100g feta (optional) Olive or vegetable oil, for frying
1 To drain, or not to drain
Courgettes are, it’s said, 95% water, which risks leaking out into the batter, so diluting it and making the finished fritters soggy. You can make perfectly decent versions by simply grating the courgettes straight into the flour, but if you have the time, it’s well worth getting rid of some of that moisture before cooking.
2 Grate, then squeeze dry
To do so, coarsely grate the courgettes into a colander or sieve, add the salt and toss. Leave to steep for 30 minutes to an hour, until wilted, then squeeze very thoroughly by hand, wringing out as much liquid as possible. (This also has the benefit of seasoning what is, let’s be honest, a rather delicately flavoured vegetable.)
3 Coat in flour
Put the courgettes in a large bowl. In a second bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and cornmeal (the latter will give your fritters a lovely crunch, but if you don’t have any, make up the weight in extra flour or fine dry breadcrumbs) until well combined, then stir into the courgettes. (You can easily substitute a gluten-free flour here, if that’s a concern.)
4 Add the onions, eggs and nutmeg
Trim and finely chop both the white and green parts of the spring onions, and stir into the fritter mix. Add the beaten eggs, too, and finish with a good grating of nutmeg (which I think goes particularly well with the creamy blandness of courgettes, though you can substitute your own favourite spice).
5 And the herbs and feta (if using)
Finely chop the herbs and crumble the feta, if using, then add both to the courgette mix.
There should be no need to add more salt, especially if feta is involved, but check by covering the base of a frying pan with oil (I use olive oil), put over a medium-high heat, fry a small blob of the batter until crisp and taste to check the seasoning. Adjust as necessary.
6 Fry in batches
Dollop large spoonfuls of batter around the pan and flatten them slightly, bearing in mind that these are not pancakes. Cook for a couple of minutes, until golden brown underneath, then carefully flip and fry on the other side. Lift out on to a cooling rack or a tray lined with kitchen paper, and serve immediately, or keep warm in the oven while you cook the rest.
7 Variations on the theme
This is a very adaptable recipe, which is fortunate, because you may be eating courgette fritters regularly until the season has run its course. You can make obvious swaps, such as replacing the feta with cubes of halloumi, and the dill with parsley, or go for cheddar and jalapeño, chorizo and parsley, or small cooked prawns, patted dry, and coriander.
8 Or try out on other veg
Treat other seasonal gluts in the same way: marrows; tomatoes, deseeded, flesh chopped and salted like the courgettes (no need to squeeze them out); peas and sweetcorn (which don’t need salting); broad beans (ditto, though I’d peel them and lightly blanch bigger ones first, because they can be tough); chard or other leaves, blanched, wrung dry and roughly chopped … even big bunches of soft herbs.
9 And/or serve with a dip
To make a quick dip to go with your fritters, mix 100g plain, whole milk Greek yoghurt with a small crushed garlic clove, a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and a pinch of sugar, then season to taste. Just before serving, strip the leaves off a small bunch of mint, roughly chop and fold through.