Unlike me, my other half doesn’t love courgettes. He claims they squeak – like green beans and aubergines – they’re on his “I’ll only eat those if there’s another famine’” list. So I spend a lot of time trying to create recipes which make these vegetables more appetising and less….squeaky. These fritters have been the greatest success so far, though it may be due to the fact that they are completely, cheesy, crispy and delicious. You could probably create these fritters with other squeaky vegetables like aubergines and they also work great with leeks. My Dad has a glut of courgettes in the garden, so these fritters are great to use them up. The fritters are accompanied by my other half’s special recipe for tomato and chilli jam which is rich and sweet and a perfect match for them. This dish makes a great tea-time snack or a scrummy starter.

Fritters

(Makes 8  fritters)
- 1 oz of butter
- 100g of courgettes
- 1 medium sized shallot
- 100g of flour
- 1 organic egg
- 110 ml of milk
- 100g of strong chedder, grated
- salt and pepper
- freshly grated nutmeg
- Olive oil for frying

Slice the courgettes in half- lengthways and in half again. Slice these quarter pieces  into thin slices. You should be left with lots of little triangles of courgette. Slice the shallot into thin strips.Next, melt the butter and a few drops of olive oil in a non stick  saucepan. Cook off the courgettes and shallots in the melted butter. Leave them on a gentle heat for about 15 minutes. They should be soft , translucent and just caramelized. Leave aside to cool.

Sieve the flour into a large bowl. Using a hand whisk, slowly incorporate the beaten egg and then gradually add the milk until all the liquid is combined. Continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth and lump free. Add the grated cheese, salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. Finally add the cooked shallots and courgette. Mix with a wooden spoon, until all are combined.

Heat some oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Place a very small amount of the mixture on the pan to test if it’s hot enough. The batter should crisp up and fluff up in seconds. Taste the sample piece to check for seasoning. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Once the pan is hot enough, place 3 or 4 spoonfuls of the mixture on the pan. Heat on one side until golden brown and then flip to the other side until it turns golden brown. Remove and place on some kitchen paper, to remove excess oil. Serve while stil piping hot with a dollop of tomato and chilli jam. See recipe below.

Tomato and Chilli Jam

 - 1 tablespoon of olive oil
 - a small nob of butter
 - 1 medium onion diced finely
 - 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
 - 1 1/2 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
 - half a red chilli, deseeded and chopped very finely (If you like it hotter, you can always add more)
 - 1 teaspoon of sugar
 - 1 tin of tomatoes (plum)
 -1 teaspoon of tomato puree
 - salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste.

Here’s how:

Using tinned tomatoes you should always balance the acidity and sugar to taste. It’s important to cook this sauce (jam) for at least 30 minutes over a low  to medium heat to reduce it right down to a jam-like consistency. Begin by heating the oil and butter in a non-stick sauce pan. Add the onions, garlic and chilli and sweat these for 5 mins. Next add the vinegar and cook off for a minute before adding the tin of tomatoes and tomato puree – I like to remove the stalky-bits of the tomatoes before adding to the sauce to ensure a smooth consistency. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. Continue to cook for 15 minutes and break down the tomatoes using a wooden spoon. Check the seasoning. Let the sauce continue to reduce until its thick and unctous. This sauce will keep for a few days, if kept in a jar in the fridge.

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