Want a new way to use up that veg glut? Grate!
Lisa Faulkner reckons corn fritters are the new avo toast (she’s right), but that’s only the beginning. Fritters of all shades and sizes are the perfect way to use up all that veg languishing in your crisper drawer.
Carrots, kohlrabi, courgette, beetroot… grate it up, squish it into patties, fry, eat, repeat. Here's everything you need to know to fritter the week away.
OK. What actually is a fritter?
By definition a fritter is a fried thing, but thinking about the spam fritters of school dinner days or the pineapple fritters you get at the chip shop won't help you here – the new generation of fritters are leaner, greener and more likely to be found with salad on the side than a saveloy.
Flat, round and fluffy, imagine a place between a potato rosti and a pancake filled with vegetables. It's a happy place.
What do I put in a fritter?
What don't you put in a fritter, you mean? Liquorice, vodka, Maltesers. Watermelon. Um... mud?
Fritters are especially useful for using up awkward veg – those knobbly, ugly chaps that you buy for a specific recipe, use a small piece of and then shove to the back of the crisper drawer to die. Waste not, want not, put it in a fritter! As the saying goes.
To help narrow down your options, the very best fritters are made with veg that grates well and cooks quickly. Root veg like celeriac, parsnip, butternut squash and carrots are all top contenders, as are stranger beasts like kohlrabi and Jerusalem artichoke. Courgette is king. Beetroot is brilliant, if you don't mind purple hands. Sweetcorn fritters are a classic (add coriander, chilli and lime for a Mexican brunch that laughs in the face of avo toast), cauliflower makes a surprisingly pretty patty, and even broccoli stalks can get in on the action.
Once you have your veggie base, you can bulk it out with ungrateable greens like kale and spinach too. If you really want to.
I've selected my veg. What now?
Roll up your sleeves and get grating! Unless you're using sweetcorn, in which case it's probably not worth the effort.
Once you've coarsely grated everything, stopping just short of your fingers, it's a good idea to squeeze out as much moisture as possible – wet veg makes for a watery batter that won't hold together as well. A piece of muslin or a clean tea towel is ideal for this step, but you can just use your hands and a colander (save the squeezings for a nice juice if you want to be really economical).
What else do I add?
The standard is a basic pancake batter – eggs, flour, milk – and we're partial to a pinch of baking powder, to make them light and fluffy.
But variety is the spice of life, and fritter recipes have infinite variations. Change up the dairy by using a soft cheese like ricotta or mascarpone, or use buttermilk, yogurt or crème fraîche for a tangy note. If you prefer them more like a crisp rosti and less like a pancake, you can skip the dairy and just use eggs and flour to bind your veg – and try free-from swaps like nut milk and flax seeds to make sure vegans don't miss out on all the fun.
Once you have a thick, veg-packed batter, you can get creative with extra additions to fancify your fritters. Enter: herbs, spices, garlic, chilli, fresh ginger, leafy greens, quinoa and beans or pulses to bring bulk and extra flavour to the party.
Then of course there's cheese. There is always cheese. Cubes of feta, halloumi or paneer all work a treat, as does a nice handful of grated mature cheddar.
Come fry with me
Shallow-fry spoonfuls of the mixture in a little oil on a medium heat, flattening your fritters with the back of a spatula and giving them a couple of flips until nicely golden brown. Take care not to cook the outside too quickly, to avoid a gooey middle, and keep them crisp after frying by drying them off on some kitchen towel and stacking them between sheets of greaseproof paper.
Tip: If you're feeding a crowd, avoid greeting guests with billowing smoke and a sweaty pink face by leaving half an hour to fry up your fritters before they arrive. Pop the finished fritters in a casserole dish in the oven on a low heat to stay warm while you fry the rest.
Plate up and enjoy! You can tart up your fritters with any sprinkle, drizzle or dollop that takes your fancy – tahini, yogurt, hot sauce and fresh herbs all make Insta-worthy additions, as does our old pal avocado (we haven't forgotten you, mate).
They're also great with a side of beans, an egg, crispy bacon, chorizo, roasted tomatoes or other veg you unearthed too late to make it into the batter.
Oh, and cheese. Did we mention cheese yet? Cheese.
I want to join the fritterati!
Once you've mastered the basic concept, there's a whole world of fritter recipes out there to inspire you. Here are some of our favourites. Ready, shreddy, go!
Sorry, spiraliser – your time's up. We have a new favourite way to eat courgette and carrot, and none of it involves pretending they taste like pasta.
Courgettes take centre stage in these crispy fellas, but red peppers and spring onions get in on the act too. Let's call it 'fried salad', shall we?
Don't overlook the humble pea as a boring side dish. Use up your frozen bag to make a tasty fritter to snack on. This recipe uses super simple ingredients, which make these a perfect accompaniment to grilled meats or fish.
If you haven't tasted the winning combination of beetroot and feta cheese, this is a must try. We like the addition of this fancy yogurt dipping dish, which teams up beautifully with all the earthy, salty tones of the fritters. Delish.
This thrifty recipe uses a whole head of broccoli, stem and all. Just think how smug and full you'll be.
For anyone who's ever stood over a veg box wailing "But what do I do with kohlrabi?", allow us to present the answer. The bulbous alien of the veg patch works beautifully in fritters, and squeezing out all the moisture doubles up as a handy workout.
Crispy, golden and made with just five ingredients, these butternut squash fritters are easy as pie. But healthier than pie. Stop thinking about pie.