Wow, it’s been a while! A lot has been happening, and unfortunately it left me kind of swamped and floundering. Thankfully summer vacation finally arrived. A month into it, and I feel like I’ve finally caught my breath!
The swamped and floundering feeling left me really scrambling food-wise. I’ve been doing a lot of “making do” with frozen vegetarian options or just eating the veggie sides to whatever meals we’ve been having. I haven’t been feeling too great about that, and have been itching to get back to making home-made stuff again. Well, I guess I have been making some home-made vegetarian dishes here and there, but I haven’t really had the time, energy or inspiration to really post them till now. And honestly, this is probably the first dish I’ve come up with that I’m really actually excited about!
So, I’ve been trying to find ways to get myself away from soy. Eating so much frozen stuff means that I’ve been packing myself full of soy, soy by-products and sodium, quite frankly. Also, the rest of the “making do” has left me protein-starved, which means that I find myself feeling hungry quite often, craving meat, and as compromise, binge-eating junk food to satisfy my body’s cravings for more energy-packed food.
This fritter that I made last night was perfect on all fronts: I used quinoa and almond flour to boost protein content in each patty so it was more filling. It was also really flavorful, and lastly, so easy to make. The part that took the most time was frying them up and letting them cool!
It’s that time of year anyway, when neighbors and family members dump on us all those zucchini and summer squashes. There is only so much zucchini bread and cookies that one can make before you feel like putting up a “all ye with zucchini, do not enter here” sign up on the front lawn and on your forehead. This fritter is a nice alternative to that.
I realize this is tooting my own horn, but I wouldn’t share this recipe if I didn’t think it was pretty darn good, so here it goes anyway: I was surprised at the amount of umami I was able to get into this really simple recipe. One of my complaints with vegetarian or vegan foods is often that there is a problem with a lack of “depth” in the flavor of foods. Vegetarian foods have a little less of a problem with this, as they are sometimes helped by the use of things like butter or cheeses in their recipes. Vegan foods … yikes. I have to say it – tend to be … bland. I will now put on my helmet and kevlar vest. Thank you.
Anyway, somehow I managed to avoid this while making the recipe gluten-free and vegan! It worked! I honestly am not sure what it is about the combination of the foods listed below that worked just right, but it did. I *am* the “Reluctant Vegetarian,” so you know that if I’m saying this was actually really good, that it pretty well had to be.
Zucchini and Quinoa Fritters (with GF and Vegan options)
Cook time (including prep): around 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how organized you are (I’m not!)
Serves four people, three patties each, give or take
Two medium-large zucchinis, shredded
One medium onion, shredded
One cup of cooked quinoa (I cooked mine in vegetable broth to add depth of flavor)
2/3 cups almond meal/almond flour
2 eggs or 2 Tbsp ground flax seed soaked in 6 Tbsp water as egg replacement (I used the egg replacement)
1 tsp salt, divided (add more or less to taste, although I found 1 tsp to be enough)
1 tsp garlic powder (or to taste, you can adjust this to your own preference)
1 tsp ground black pepper
2-3 Tbsp gluten-free flour of your choice, if needed – or add more almond meal
1/4 cup olive oil (depending on the size of your pan, you will need more or less – you need enough to have oil sit 1/4-in deep in the bottom of your pan)
1) Combine quinoa and vegetable broth in a pot with a lid and cook according to package directions.
2) While the quinoa is cooking, shred the zucchinis and place in colander or strainer. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of the salt and mix in. Let the zucchini sit over the sink to let the water drain out of it for 10 to 15 minutes.
3) While the zucchini is draining, shred the onion. This is also a good time to mix the ground flax seed and water in a small bowl if you are opting to use the egg replacement. Set aside.
4) When the zucchini has sat for 10 to 15 minutes, take fistfuls of it and squeeze out the excess water. Alternately, you can take handfuls of the zucchini out, lay on clean tea towels and press to squeese out the water. Place the onion and zucchini in a large bowl along with grated onion, quinoa, almond flour/meal, eggs or ground flax/water combination, rest of the salt, garlic powder and ground black pepper. Stir to combine. The mixture should be thick enough to hold a patty shape when formed. If it’s not, add some more almond meal or the 2 to 3 Tbsp gluten-free flour.
5) Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Make sure the oil is very hot before placing the fritters into the pan. Test the oil first by dropping a little bit of the batter into the oil. If it sizzles, it’s ready.
5) IMPORTANT: Don’t make the fritters too big. I found that making big fritters led to loose, soggy fritters that never cooked through well. The best size was taking enough of the mixture to form a golf ball sized sphere that you then flatten out into about a 1/2 in.-thick patty. Gently place three to four patties into the hot oil. Do not over-handle the patties, this leads to them breaking apart. Let the patties sit about 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove when they are a deep, golden brown.
TIP: Let these patties cool down for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving. For one thing, the flavors come out much more once the patties have had a chance to cool to just a little warmer than luke-warm. For another, they hold their shape best once they’ve had a chance to cool, too.
If desired, serve with a dollop of vegan sour cream (or regular sour cream if you are not avoiding dairy) . SO good! And very rich! Watch out!