I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I've made this recipe at least four times in the past couple weeks. And that's after I'd finished making all my recipe adjustments. For me, this is very unusual. I typically try to mix it up out of fear I'll get bored of a good recipe. Especially at dinner. For some reason, I can repeat breakfast / lunch over and over, but when it comes to dinner...well, I typically need more variety. But not with this recipe. I'm obsessed.
At this time of year, grocers are literally giving away zucchini. For the past few weeks, my favorite vendor at the local farmers market has been selling it at a buck a piece. One dollar! Shut up and take our money. Yes, I was that crazy person trying to stuff armfuls of zucchini into my undersized shopping bag. This recipe made me do it.
This dish is perfect when you're craving a warm meal, without the heaviness that makes you want to take a nap afterwards (bowl of pasta, I'm looking at you). These zucchini fritters are nice and crispy on the outside, soft and flavorful on the inside, and topped with a creamy and refreshing yogurt sauce. And if that wasn't enough, both the fritters and sauce are packed with fresh, fragrant herbs. It's a perfect way to showcase the best of late summer.
Fun fact - did you know, zucchini is technically a fruit? Yup, tomatoes aren't the only vegetables (I mean fruit) pulling the wool over our eyes! Zucchini is part of the squash family, which can be separated into summer and winter varieties. Zucchini is a summer squash, which means it gets picked while still "young" and has softer skin – which makes it good for eating either cooked or raw.
Because zucchini is a good source of nutrients, you can feel great about piling your plate high with these yummy fritters. Surprisingly to some, zucchini contains fairly high levels of vitamin C. Usually when people hear vitamin C they think citrus fruits, but a cup of chopped zucchini provides about 30% of your daily needs - and this recipe will give you even more than that! In addition to providing about the same level of potassium as a banana, zucchini is also a great source of beta carotene. Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body, which then goes on to perform many important roles. It's critical for eye health, growth and tissue healing, healthy skin and a whole host of other functions (including antioxidant effects). In order to benefit from beta carotene in zucchini, you'll need to consume the skin, so avoid peeling it. When eating the skin, try to buy organic zucchini when possible.
Prepping this dish is fairly straightforward. It requires very little vegetable prep, which is probably why I found myself going back to it so often recently. A veggie heavy dish with very little chopping? Oh yes. Grating the zucchini, skin and all, is a great time saver. Since zucchini has crazy high water content (~95%), it's very important to remove as much liquid as possible, before adding the other ingredients. This recipe utilizes two steps to remove the excess moisture. The first step is salting the shredded zucchini and letting it strain in a colander. The salt will help draw out some of the moisture. You can be generous when "salting" the shredded zucchini because most of this salt will be removed before cooking. Once the zucchini has had a quick rest, you're ready to move to step two: squeezing out the zucchini. Using either a cheesecloth, nutmilk bag, or clean dishtowel, squeeze the shredded zucchini to remove as much liquid as possible. The dryer the zucchini, the better your fritters - so make sure you get it as much water out as possible!
Unlike most fritter recipes, these aren't heavily fried in oil. I use only a small amount of oil to prevent them from sticking to my cast iron pan. If you prefer to use a non-stick pan, go ahead. Otherwise, feel free to use a cast iron skillet or similar. But if you do go this route, make sure you're using a well-seasoned skillet, or be prepared to use a bit more oil to keep your fritters from sticking. In any case, much better than deep frying!
The lemon-dill yogurt sauce is a perfect complement to these warm, cozy beauties. The yogurt provides a thick, creamy base, which is then spruced up with some lemon, dill, garlic, and capers for a bit more tang. It's a much tastier and healthy twist to a sour cream garnish that's often used on dishes like these. If you manage to have any sauce leftover (good luck), I highly recommend saving it for dipping with veggies or soft bread / pita.
Zucchini Fritters with Lemon Dill Yogurt Sauce
- 1½ lbs zucchini
- 2 scallions/green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or white rice flour if gluten free)
- 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs (gluten free if needed)
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt (extra for prep)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, divided (or other neutral oil)
- Lemon wedges (for serving)
Lemon Dill Yogurt Sauce
- ⅔ cup Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons capers, roughly chopped
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Preheat: Preheat oven to 325°F (165°C). Place an oven-safe cooling rack on a baking sheet and set aside.
- Prep zucchini: Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the skin-on zucchini (you should get about 5 cups). Put zucchini in a colander over the sink. Generously sprinkle with salt (about 1 teaspoon) and toss to mix (see note 1). Let sit for 10 minutes to drain.
- Make sauce: Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, dill, lemon juice, capers and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Cover and refrigerate.
- Squeeze zucchini: Pile half of the zucchini into a nutmilk bag (or cheesecloth, clean dish towel) and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with remaining zucchini.
- Mix fritters: To the zucchini, add scallions, dill, garlic, and onion powder. Stir to mix well. Stir in eggs until well mixed. Stir in flour, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper.
- Cook: Heat 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Drop in golf-ball sized piles of batter (about 3 tablespoons each), being careful not to overcrowd the pan (see note 2). Use the back of a spatula to gently flatten. Cook until golden-brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until the other side is golden-brown. Transfer the fritters to the cooling rack and keep warm in the oven. Drizzle another 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil into the pan and repeat.
- Serve: Serve the fritters hot, with yogurt sauce and lemon wedges (for squeezing).
- Salt: The salt helps draw out moisture from the zucchini for a crisper fritter. It might look a like a lot of salt when you're sprinkling it here, but don't worry, most of it will be released when the zucchini gets drained and squeezed.
- Cooking fritters: A cookie scoop is very handy for portioning out the mixture into the pan. A #20 (large) scoop has a 3 tablespoon capacity, while a #40 (medium) scoop has a 1.5 tablespoon capacity. The exact size of the fritters doesn't matter too much, just try to make them a similar size so they cook evenly. Don't crowd the pan so you give yourself a bit of wiggle room for flipping the fritters.