Over the weekend, I heard “pickled fried zucchini” mentioned on this week’s episode of The Splendid Table (seriously, if you like food at all and you’re not listening to this podcast, please stop reading this post, go subscribe and come back. It’s so lovely. Even if you don’t love to cook, it’s just so interesting and well done. I’ll wait…. Ready? Ok.) It’s been on my mind ever since (though I haven’t chased down a recipe.) I offered Mom her choice of leftovers or tilapia with either sweet potatoes or pickled fried zucchini, or zucchini fritters. She picked the fritters. I found a recipe and got started.
The story of this recipe, for me, is that it requires you to squeeze the zucchini to get the water out. This is contentious, because they tell you to use cheesecloth or a clean dish towel to do it. I don’t have cheesecloth. The one chore Mom consistently does is the laundry, and my experience of her suggests she would lose her mind if I threw a dishcloth covered in bits of zucchini into the wash. I sneak in loads of laundry that require special care (she solidly objects to the use of cold water, gentle detergent and the delicate cycle, and I’m someone who had a small load of delicates every week that are now being washed in warm water on the permanent press cycle, but I try to pick the hills I need to die on), now and again, but she gives me the side-eye when she sees things drying that she didn’t launder. This is a time-delimited problem— the laundry room is in the basement, and stairs are not a small thing for her to manage, anymore.
So I tried to improvise, and I shredded them into layers of paper towels and squeezed the water out, then onto paper napkins where I squeezed them again. For good measure, I salted and drained the zucchini and let it sit in the colander, and I put the still very wet cakes into a strainer and squeezed them as dry as I could before I put them into the pan. My experience of the quinoa cakes taught me that it will fall apart if it’s too wet— it will be tasty but it will not be a cake.
That’s mostly the upshot of this story, too. I’m buying cheesecloth and I’ll launder it myself. The cakes were good— a little fall-apart-y, but not as bad as the quinoa cakes in that respect. Very tasty, and they browned nicely. I learned from the quinoa cakes, not to make them too large to easily flip with my largest spatula. I used bread crumbs instead of flour, which might have made a difference, but I had made and frozen bread crumbs from a homemade loaf awhile ago and when I saw the suggestion in the comments, I couldn’t not try it.
I served it with grilled bok choi from the garden, chopped into bite-sized pieces and tossed in olive oil and red wine vinegar. I thought it was light and tasty. I would have salted or peppered it, but I had been generous with seasoning the fritters and the fish (lime zest and juice, salt, pepper, and a spice blend from my local shop called Summit County spice blend— meant to be a salt substitute) and I thought it could go with a lighter treatment.