Fritters and patties are big at home right now. It seems a quirky developmental stage our children go through; a unique thing that happens in our house like bum-shuffle crawling and oh-so-late walking! (Our little boy is 20 months old and has just taken a few steps! But he generally prefers to scoot about on his bottom, wearing all his pants to threads.)
Before the age of 1 our two kids both became unimpressed by eating food with a spoon, but nor were they very good at eating pieces of cooked vegetables with a fork or their fingers (still the case with our boy!). Fritters or patties sit somewhere in the middle and thankfully go down a treat. I sit back in relief after the meal thinking of all the vegetables just consumed, which would have been a debacle otherwise. So I call on fritters every so often, whenever we need a stress-free and healthy meal.
Recently I jotted down a list of ‘Great fritters’. Just something to turn to if ever scratching my head, as well as a bit of light entertainment (love a good list!), and also a nod to the fact that yes, this is a category of cooking I do rather well! Although I am sure there are many more fritters I’m yet to discover …
Of course fritters are great not only when you have stubborn kids, but for when you feel like a non-bread-based lunch, or when a light dinner is in order, or when you have a particular kind of vegetable to use up.
Seven great fritters
Okonomiyaki – This simple cabbage and spring onion pancake is the all-time favourite in our house. We actually don’t think of it as a fritter (perhaps because of its large size, which is almost the width of a frying pan), but as a very satisfying all-in-one dinner without any extra accompaniments needed other than the delicious combination of homemade mayonnaise, okonomi sauce and shredded nori to go on top. My recipe was published with a story in ‘Epicure’, The Age, 2012.
Carrot fritters – These would definitely come in as our second favourite fritters. Easy enough to whip up for lunch, and the flavours of cumin, fresh coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice on top is so good. The recipe is in The Hungry Girls’ Cookbook Volume 2.
Corn cakes – Another classic in our family, dating back to the cafe we owned where they were a very popular breakfast with bacon, aioli, roasted tomato and rocket. It’s my husband’s job to cook these whenever we have them. His recipe includes lots of spring onions and a generous hand of cream, which both work so brilliantly with the sweet taste of the corn.
Lentil, potato and caramelised onion burgers – An old favourite I turn to when wanting to make something vegetarian at a barbecue, and also whenever we get cravings for these burgers, which is periodically. The caramelised onions and currants make them pretty delicious. The recipe is in The Hungry Girls’ Cookbook’ Volume 1.
Zucchini, fetta and dill (or haloumi and mint) fritters – These made it onto another list I wrote recently, which is ‘Good things to cook with zucchini’ (a sometimes necessary thing to turn to when delivered our organic box of fruit and vegetables every week and faced with more zucchini!). I’ve made plenty of these fritters before, but am yet to figure out my favourite recipe …
Smoked trout patties – My alternative to tuna and potato patties, with peas, anchovies, lemon zest and plenty of herbs. This recipe originally came printed on a card with the Hungry Girls’ red tea towel, but if anyone is interested in the recipe, just let me know.
Pumpkin and quinoa patties – This is the newest addition to my list, which originated with a recipe in Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson (blogger extraordinaire of 101 Cookbooks). Heidi makes the patties just with the quinoa, suggesting you can add chopped vegetables. I always go down the vegetable path and have made them with broccoli and cauliflower, but roast pumpkin turned out to be the best! The patties are pretty fantastic with sour cream and homemade sweet chilli sauce on top. Here is my version:
Pumpkin and quinoa patties
about 500 g pumpkin
170 g quinoa
350 ml water
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/3 bunch parsley, finely chopped
½ cup freshly grated parmesan
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
oil for frying
Scoop the seeds from the pumpkin but leave the skin on and roast in a medium oven for around 30–40 minutes, until soft when pierced with a skewer.
Meanwhile, give the quinoa a good rinse, then drain and tip it into a saucepan. Add the water, cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to low and cook for around 15 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed and the quinoa has just started sticking to the base of the pan. Turn off the heat and leave to steam with the lid on for 10 minutes (this loosens any quinoa stuck on the bottom). Leave to cool.
Peel the skin from the pumpkin, put the flesh in a large mixing bowl and mash with a fork. Add the quinoa, onion, parsley, parmesan, eggs, salt and pepper and mix well. Taste the mixture and add more salt if needed.
Heat a splash of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add mounded tablespoons of the mixture to the pan to make patties, smoothing out the sides and tops of each one. Fry for around 4 minutes, until a golden crust has formed, then flip and cook the other side. Remove the patties to a plate and continue cooking more patties in batches, adding more oil to the pan as you go.