I mentioned a while back that when I was in Boston, I had an incredible dinner at a restaurant called Oleana . It was an epic meal, one that lasted for hours as I reconnected with friends I hadn’t seen in years. I had wanted to order the vegetarian tasting menu, but the waiter said the kitchen was too busy to veganize it that evening. My friend Patrick got it, though, and I stole many bites from the vegan bits on his plate. The rest of us just split a bunch of appetizers before our main course—warm olives with za’atar, bean and walnut paté, and zucchini fritters. By the time my “vegan plate” of roasted seasonal vegetables arrived, I was stuffed, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying every bite. It also didn’t stop me when the Sicilian cremolata was served—a rich almond-based ice cream. Nor did it stop me from helping myself to Patrick’s dessert—an herb-infused sweet sauce with liquor and berries and some kind of sherbet. I know not what it was, only that it was the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted.
But the recipe for zucchini fritters is, which is good because my garden has been providing a steady (and I do mean steady) supply of zucchini. It’s easily veganizable; I simply swapped out the eggs for some tofu. The original recipe calls for nasturtiums, which I’m sure would be lovely, but they were too hard to come by. I also added in some nutritional yeast to create a hint of a cheese flavor.
Zucchini Fritters, adapted from Spice by Ana Sortun
2 1/2 cups zucchini, grated
1 tsp salt
1 small red onion, diced
1 Tbsp fresh dill or mint, chopped
black pepper to taste
1/4 c. tofu, crumbled/smooshed
1/2 c. flour
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
enough olive oil for frying
bread crumbs (optional)
1) Salt the grated zucchini and let it sit in a colander to dry out (15 min or so). 2) Pat with a towel or squish with hands to remove any remaining water from the zucchini and place it in a large bowl. 3) add the rest of the ingredients (except oil and bread crumbs) and mix well. 4) Heat the oil in a big skillet while forming the mixture into small patties. Coat in bread crumbs if you want to. 5) Fry over medium-high heat for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown. 6) Set on a paper towel to let excess oil drain off. 7) Serve and top with lemon-garlic aioli.*
*To make the aioli: whisk together vegenaise, lemon juice, and minced garlic to taste.
I’ve made these a few times now and have found that they’re quite conducive to experimentation. Cumin and coriander is a nice alternative in place of the dill. When I ate these with my friend Dustin, he added quite a bit more salt, so you might want to consider adding another tsp or so to the full mixture.