I grew up eating some pretty weird stuff but I’m Italian so it comes with the territory. One of these “weird things” to which I refer was “”pitticelle” which was a fritter made out of zucchini flowers and grated zucchini. My mother would often use just the zucchini flowers dipped in a batter and fried. My grandmother would stuff the flowers with rice before dipping it in the batter, good but way too much work! I much prefer the fritters and decided to make those. As in most of our ancestral recipes handed down from one generation to the next, the recipe was jotted down on a piece of note paper, no measurements and few instructions, basically it said “mix together and fry till done”.That wasn’t very helpful! Over the years I have measured, recorded and refined the recipe to what has become the best zucchini fritter you will ever eat!
Before going through all of that I searched through every cookbook I could find and searched the Internet and I couldn’t find a single recipe that came close to what I was looking for. My aunt used to have a saying about her philosophy of cooking; “the more you put in, the more you find!” This is especially true when it comes to these fritters. Zucchini by itself is bland so you have to add good cheese and fresh herbs to this to have the great flavor, that’s what so many other recipes I have seen for these are missing!
Notice I said “good” cheese,the difference between cooking and really good cooking is not the recipe alone, it’s the quality of the ingredients used. Always buy the best that you can afford whether it’s olive oil or grated cheese, whatever you’re cooking with, get the best! You can buy a smaller amount or shop when it’s on sale but don’t skimp because it really makes a difference that you can taste.For this recipe I like to use a mixture of Reggiano Parmegiana grated cheese and Pecorino Romano. I also like to buy a chunk of the cheese and grate it fresh right before I use it. I know how convenient it is to buy grated cheese but it looses a lot of taste as it sits in the container so if you have the time consider grating it right before you use it, believe me you will notice the difference.
For the zucchini in this recipe you can either grate it on a box grater or shred it in the food processor. If you are using small zucchini you can leave the seeds in but if the zucchini are large the seeds will be also so it’s best to cut them out before shredding the zucchini. If you have a garden and have zucchini flowers you can add these as well. I add 6-8 flowers which should be well washed, dried, remove stem and stamen and slice into shreds before adding to recipe. The petals add color and some flavor but if you do not have access to the flowers or prefer not to add them the fritters will still be amazing, it’s totally optional.
If you have a lot of zucchini you can shred it and freeze it in freezer bags to use for zucchini bread or fritters all winter long. ( I freeze it in two cup amounts in individual bags so I can make a half or full recipe for the fritters, and two cups is also the amount many zucchini bread recipes call for.) You can also double this recipe and keep the batter in the fridge to fry up when you’re ready. The batter will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days, stir well when ready to use.
One more tip: if you do not have fresh parsley or basil do not use dried, it’s not the same and it will not work well in this recipe. You will really want to pick up some fresh basil and parsley for this recipe, it gives a wonderful fresh taste that really enhances the flavor of these fritters!
The Best Zucchini Fritters That You Will Ever Eat!
- 2 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup milk, ( I used 2% but use whatever you prefer)
- 4 cups grated zucchini
- 6-8 shredded zucchini flower petals ( optional)
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 1 medium shallot finely chopped
- 4-5 cloves of minced garlic
- ¼ cup each of parsley and basil, finely chopped
- 1 cup of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese or a mixture of both ( ½ cup of each)
- 1 cup of shredded mozzarella
- Olive oil for frying
In a medium bowl combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pepper. In a separate large bowl beat eggs with milk, add in the zucchini, zucchini flowers if using, onion, shallot, garlic, parsley, basil, grated cheese and shredded mozzarella. Mix this well before adding in the dry ingredients mixing until they are well incorporated, the batter should be fairly thick. It is best to refrigerate the batter at this point for at least 30 minutes.
When ready to fry the fritters, heat olive oil in a skillet making sure the oil is deep enough to come halfway up the pan.Drop heaping tablespoons of batter into the hot oil and cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes before carefully turning onto the other side( I use two large spoons for this). Cook an additional 2-3 minutes until golden brown on both sides and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Sprinkle with salt and additional black pepper if desired, serve hot. This recipe will make a large amount of fritters that can be served as an appetizer or a side dish. If you cook the whole recipe it should easily serve 8-10 but I’ll warn you, these suckers are addicting so don’t be surprised if they quickly disappear!