Zucchini Fritters with Fresno Lentil Puree

This recipe was originally published casual in my run of zines. You can read more about the project and also see what other projects I've have as well.

Having a summer garden comes with the inevitable zucchini overload, no matter how well I plan. I have a few recipes to turn to when I need to eat zucchini, even when I might be over it. Enter these zucchini fritters made with five ingredients and fried to golden perfection. 

Close-up of crispy zucchini fritters

My Ideal Zucchini Fritter

As an avid fritter maker, I'm overly particular about the texture of my zucchini fritter. While most recipes call for grating the zucchini, I prefer leaving the zucchini in larger strips, which creates an interesting texture and makes for a fun visual appeal. 

Beyond the exciting texture, arguably the most essential quality of zucchini fritters is whether or not the outside stays crispy upon leaving the pan.

Crispy Fritters Only, Please

Many fritters promise this but often end up soft, no matter how well fried. So, how do I ensure crisp fritters when zucchini is notorious for having a high water content?

Salt, Salt, and Salt: Salting the zucchini beforehand draws out the water content, which is critical for a crispy texture. The more water removed, the better your chance of success with a crisp texture. 

Outer Parts only: Besides the salting, we can help the zucchini by not using the inner seeded part. I realize this may feel strange, but the texture difference between the skin and immediate flesh versus the inner area is quite noticeable! By not using the inner part of the zucchini, we have less water to worry about. The inner part can be used for creamy soups or composted. 

No Cold Pans: Frying temperature can be a game changer for the crispy texture. If the pan and frying oil are too cold, the fritter will absorb the oil, which is the opposite of what we want: the oil to draw out more moisture. Be sure the batter sizzles when it hits the pan (and ensure there's a nice layer of oil each time you add a batch)!

Push it: Wait to pull the fritters from the pan! There is no "nice light golden color" here: push it towards a deep golden color! 

An Egg-Free, Vegan Zucchini Fritter

While I prefer to use egg in my fritter as it brings everything together, these can be made with the trusty flax egg as a replacement. Just make sure the first side is well-cooked and crisp before attempting to flip. '

Storage: Make-Ahead or Leftover fritters

In an ideal world, you know if some of the fritters will be leftovers. If planning for this, fry the fritters until just golden, then remove, let cool, and store either in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for a few months. Then, when ready to finish cooking, continue cooking as the instructions tell. If working from frozen, the time will take a bit longer. 

If you've cooked the zucchini fritters all through, you can fry them again, but watch closely as they can burn quickly. I recommend reheating in the oven at 375˚F until warmed through. 

A white speckled bowl with a swoosh of creamy lentil puree topped with crispy zucchini fritters and fresh cherry tomatoes.

A Few Bonus Notes

Zucchini Swaps: Yellow summer squash makes for the best zucchini substitution, or you can use summer squash and zucchini together, making these a touch more colorful! 

Ideal Pan: If you have a cast iron skillet or griddle pan, use it. The even heat distribution and natural non-stick qualities make it the perfect fritter-making companion.  

Alliums: I adore onions in these because they become crispy onion straws that stick out from the fritters. However, thinly sliced scallions, leeks, or shallots would also work. Just don't skip the alliums. Please. 

Serving Ideas

Dips: Smear a dip on the bottom of a bowl and stack the fritters on top. The Fresno lentil puree is a great place to start, but hummus, garlicky yogurt, or whipped ricotta are also lovely. 

Grain Bowls: With the help of a dip, turn the fritters into a grain bowl. Pair with the tomato couscous salad, simple cooked grains, or lightly dressed greens. 

Lettuce Wraps: For a handheld version, cut the fritters in half and tuck them into a lettuce wrap with a sprinkle of grains, a bit of basil, and a drizzle of creamy dressing (think ranch or blue cheese!)

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Zucchini Fritters with Fresno Lentil Puree

5-ingredient zucchini fritters paired with a creamy, vegan red lentil puree.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Resting time: 1 hour
  • 1 pound zucchini ((450g))
  • ½ large yellow onion ((112g))
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons soft wheat or all-purpose flour ((45g))
  • Sunflower or other neutral oil for frying
  • ½ cup Fresno lentil puree
  1. Rinse and pat dry the zucchini. Trim ends and cut into roughly 3”-long sections. Place each section on a cut side, then slice into ¼”-thick planks. From there, cut each plank into sticks, discarding the soft seeded parts. You can use those for another meal or compost (we only want skin pieces or firm inner pieces). You should end up with about 9-10 ounces of zucchini sticks.
  2. Slice the onion into 1/16” half-moon slices and add to the zucchini. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the salt and toss well to coat. Place in a strainer and let rest for 1 hour.
  3. After 1 hour, squeeze out as much liquid from the zucchini mixture as you can. Transfer to a bowl along with the egg, flour, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir the batter until well combined.
  4. Heat a skillet over medium heat and pour in about ¼” of sunflower oil. When the oil is hot, spoon roughly ⅓ cup of the batter into the hot oil. Add as many fritters as you can without crowding the pan. Press down with the back of the spoon to flatten the fritters into 3" rounds. Fry until just golden, flip, and cook the second side until just golden.
  5. Remove the fritters from the skillet and place on a wire rack. Let rest while cooking the remaining fritters. Once finished, briefly fry the fritters a second time. Return to the pan, cooking another 30 seconds on each side, until the fritters are a deep golden color.
  6. When lifting from the pan, drain off as much oil as possible. Divide the Fresno lentil puree between 2 bowls and top with 3-4 fritters each. Serve with sides as desired.
Salt Level: Most of the salt will drain off the zucchini as it rests. However, I recommend tasting a bite of zucchini before adding in the flour and egg, then adjusting the salt as desired. 
Wire rack: Don’t set your finished fritters on a plate or even a paper towel as either will have the fritter sitting in oil. Using a wire rack is a great way to have excess oil drip away while keeping the fritters crisp.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time :20 minutes
Resting time :1 hour
Golden zucchini fritters atop a layer of pureed lentils

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Welcome to my little internet nook. On this site you'll find over a thousand vegetarian recipes, pantry knowledge, and more. I'm ever obsessed with food from gardening, cooking, and preserving. I hope you'll find endless inspiration on these pages and visit often. 

Virtual hugs, Erin (aka: e.l.l.a.)

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