gluten-free zucchini and leek fritters with lemony yogurt dip

Sunday, July 28, 2013

*An open letter to Zucchini*

Dear Zucchini,

First, the bad news: for being so unapologetically phallic, you're a little flavor-impotent. You're pretty innocuous and ho-hum on your own and (sorry to say) usually a bit of an afterthought. That said, I really appreciate that you are flexible, you'll go with the flow, you'll adapt. You can take the grill in stride, make nice in a pasta salad, or feel at home on a crudite platter. You're not super crunchy but you're sturdy enough to be a decent hummus delivery system. 

And you know what? You're humble. I admire that. Even when you grow to obscene sizes, you never forget your roots. You never seem show-offy like a giant pumpkin. No one's writing a Charlie Brown special about you, that's for sure. There'll be no holiday in your honor. And yet you seem to be fine with that, which pleases me. You're good at slipping into cakes and breads without fanfare and somehow knowing you're there is comforting. You're like a late-arriving big brother who stands at the back of a school pageant, or a rarely-seen distant relative who still sends you five bucks for your birthday. 

The dark side to your type of easy flexibility is a flip-floppy, timid nature. In Chinese Medicine, the element associated with this behavior is Water. No surprise there. You're the wateriest thing I know. My Google search lets me know that watery individuals might also harbor some fear. What are you afraid of, Zucchini? Not being delicious? Remember the time I used your moisture for good instead of evil? When I put you in that hearty breakfast bread? I was able to use one whole tablespoon less oil. You took one for the team that day, you selfless champ. And you were tasty. So chin up, Zukes!

Usually you're filler, a background player, rarely the star of the show. That changes today, my friend.
Your ardent fan,

Zucchini and Leek Fritters with Lemony Yogurt Dip
serves 2-3 (yields about 12-14 fritters)

2 medium zucchini, grated
3/4 t kosher salt, divided
1 cup chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (about 1-2 leeks depending on size)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup GF all-purpose flour (or regular extra-gluten flour if desired:))
1/2 t baking powder
a few grinds of cracked pepper
olive oil for frying
sea salt for sprinkling

Yogurt Dip:
3/4 cup greek yogurt
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 T lemon juice
1/2 clove garlic, minced
pinch sea salt
2T chopped mint for garnish

In the sink, place the grated zucchini in a colander with 1/2 t kosher salt. Let sit for 10 minutes to help pull out the excess water. While that sits, sauté the chopped leeks in about 1T of olive oil until golden brown, about 7-8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Place the salted zucchini in a clean kitchen towel and wring out as much water as possible--the dryer the better or you risk mushy fritters! Combine the dry zucchini and the sautéed leeks with the egg and stir. Next, sprinkle in the flour, baking powder, 1/4 t salt and pepper and stir to combine. Heat 1-2t olive oil in a nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. When hot, drop mixture by heaping tablespoonfuls and press with a fork to flatten slightly. Cook for a couple minutes (taking care not to burn) and flip when golden, finishing for 2-3 minutes on the second side. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and serve immediately (or keep warm on a rack in a 200F oven).

For the dip, stir together the yogurt, zest, juice, garlic and salt. Let sit for the flavors to incorporate. After dolloping on a fritter, toss a few mint shreds on top.

Yay, Zucchini!

P.S. I am going to be sporting a sassy attitude and facial prosthetics in tonight's episode (7/28) of Devious Maids on Lifetime!

P.P.S. This is a story I wrote about shooting said episode.


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