Updated: Dec 31, 2020
Does anyone make zucchini fritters anymore or did we leave those back in 2001? I haven’t had a zucchini fritter in years; actually, I think I haven’t eaten a zucchini is years! I bought a few zucchini when I made my Great Aunt Regina’s famous risotto the other day, and I had 1½ left over that I needed to get to before they turned to slime. So I had a think – what do people do with zucchini? What as my favorite way to eat them back when I used to cook them? I decided I’d try to improve the zucchini fritters I used to make many years ago, and bump up the aromatics to push it more into veggie sausage patty territory.
Zucchini are not very flavorful – they’re mostly water. So they need a bit of help to make them delicious. I thought I would put my FAVORITE Thai cooking secret to the test (Thai 3 friends of cilantro root, pepper and garlic) to see if they could make even a humdrum zucchini taste good, and I’m ecstatic to announce that they do! A mince of cilantro, garlic and chili flakes have really become my go-to flavor base for nearly everything I cook, and so far, they have produced fantastic results every time.
In this recipe, I bumped up the cilantro by just mincing up the entire plant from root the leaf. I’ve learned that there’s no reason to ever discard cilantro stems or roots, they should always be invited to the party. This warms my heart, as any elimination of food waste tends to do.
Why am I calling these a veggie sausage when they’re made of zucchini? I’m daring to call these a veggie sausage because of the strong coriander and chili flavors, which I think points to the essence of sausage, which tends to be very aromatic. The parmiggiano might seem strange with cilantro, which I thought at first, but it works very well and it adds a nice bit of umani and another layer and depth to the aroma profile. These don’t taste of meat, I’m not pretending they do, but they are quite flavorful and aromatic.
Meal ideas for this recipe: veggie burgers, veggie breakfast sandwich (with cheese would be the dream), breakfast eggy plate (photo), lettuce wraps w/green sauce and crunchy veg, replacement for a falafel w/ some tahini sauce, flatbreads, lettuce and herbs.
Zucchini Veggie Sausage Patties Recipe
1 ½ zucchini, shredded on a box grater
1/3 C kabocha squash, shredded (optional)
½ medium onion
1/4 C cilantro (finely chopped, stems leaves and roots if you have them)
4 cloves garlic
4 T flour (gluten free, whole wheat or all-purpose)
1/3 C parmiggiano reggiano, grated
2 pinches kosher salt
2 pinches chili flakes (or to taste)
Prepare the vegetables:
Grate 1½ zucchini using a box grater. Next, taking one handful at a time or using cheesecloth, squeeze out as much of the water from the zucchini as you can. Put the dried zucchini in a mixing bowl.
If you’re using the kabocha squash too, grate up a little bit of that and add to the same mixing bowl with the zucchini.
(I used kabocha because I had one in the fridge and I thought it would be fun to turn the mixture yellow. This recipe might also work with all winter squash and no zucchini at all – I’ll try that in the near future!)
Slice ½ of an onion (red or yellow) as thinly as you can, using your sharpest knife. Slice the onion in half so that your knife goes through root to tip, remove onion skin and then slice across horizontally as thin as you an to make a pile of half rings. Slice cross your pile of half rings once or twice to get them into smaller pieces. Add to your mixing bowl.
Mince up your garlic and cilantro. Take 3-5 stems of cilantro and chop up the entire thing, including the stems and if you have the roots you’re so lucky, and you should mince that up very fine. Make sure to give the root a nice clean in case there’s any dirt. Add this to your mixing bowl.
Mix the batter
To your mixing bowl of cilantro, onion, and squashes, add 2 eggs, 4 tablespoons of flour, 2 nice big pinches of kosher salt, 2 big pinches of chili flakes (or to taste), 1/3 cup parmiggiano reggiano. Give this a good mix and take a look at it. If you have a lot of water surrounding your mixture (maybe your veggies are waterier than mine) you’ll want to adjust the flour. As long as the liquid in your mixture is viscous, you’re looking good – but if it’s really thin and watery, it’ll benefit from a tablespoon or two of more flour. Using all-purpose flour will work a little better than whole wheat. So if you go the whole wheat route, you might need extra flour.
Get a plate or wire cooling rack ready to hold your cooked patties. To remove some excess oil, I line the plate or cooling rack with paper towels (well really, I use the paper napkins that accumulate and I refuse to just throw away).
Before you commit to the entire batch of your batter, cook one in a skillet to test it for salt, spice and texture. If you cook one patty and it doesn’t hold together well and doesn’t cook firm enough to easily flip, add another 1-2 tablespoons of flour.
To cook, add a small amount of cooking oil to a hot skillet, and spoon about 2 tablespoons of mixture onto the pan in a little flattened mound to form a patty. You can gently move the oil around the pan to make sure you get some oil in contact with the food, I do this by lifting the pan and slightly tilting it from side to side to kind of swirl the oil. Cook on the first side until you have a deep brown color on the first side and then flip, then leave it to brown on the second side. I have a small non-stick pan so I cooked two patties at a time; you do what your pan can handle.
Work in batches until all your batter is used up, place your cooked patties on the paper lined cooling rack or plate.
To serve – I made a breakfast sandwich plate, which was really lovely. I had some crusty dark rye sourdough bread, which was a nice landing pad for a veggie patty and runny egg. I think these are tasty enough to be a veggie burgers or the main event at a lettuce wrap type of meal, with lots of little sauces and crunchy veggies and herb to go along.