Monday, 12 August 2013

Are fritters the way to get fussy kids to eat veg?

Coincidentally I came across fritters twice last week - once in Caroline Conran's superb 'Sud de France' which I've been working my way through down in the Languedoc, the other at a neighbour's house when she invited us over for an impromptu lunch. And the dish that her grandchildren tucked into most avidly was the courgette (zucchini) fritters.

Of course I'm not suggesting you fry every vegetable in sight to get kids to eat their greens - and other veg for that matter - but you have to admit it's a good way to win round recalcitrant eaters. And they're cheap. You can have them on their own with a dip or salsa or as an accompaniment to stretch a piece of meat or fish.

Having mastered courgettes I then tried some Santorini-style tomato fritters but they were a great deal more fiddly and no tastier, to be honest. And with courgettes bang in season at the moment, I reckon that's the place to start your fritter-frying. Here's my slightly tweaked version of Caroline's recipe. She just used onion so you don't have to add the garlic, chilli and mint if you don't want though I like the kick it gives them.

Courgette fritters
Serves 2-3 adults or a couple of adults and 2 kids

350g courgettes
4 tbsp sunflower oil or other oil for frying
1 small onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint or a good pinch of dried mint or herbes de Provence
2 eggs
2 rounded tbsp plain flour, sifted
Salt and pepper

Wipe and top and tail the courgettes and grate coarsely. Put them in a colander and salt generously. Leave for 20 minutes then rinse. Take handfuls of the courgettes, squeeze and place on a clean tea towel. Twist the tea-towel to extract as much liquid from the courgettes as possible.

Meanwhile heat a tablespoon or so of oil and soften the onion in it for about 10 minutes. Add the chopped garlic towards the end of the cooking time then the chilli flakes and mint or other herbs, if using. Tip onto a saucer or plate and set aside to cool.

Beat the eggs and add the sifted flour bit by bit, whisking as you go. You want a thick-ish batter. Season with pepper.

When you're ready to serve the fritters, mix the grated courgettes and onion mix into the batter and add a little salt. Heat the remaining oil over a moderate heat and fry the fritters in batches - about 4 tbsp of mixture to the pan. Flip them over after about 2 minutes and cook the other side. When they're nicely browned and crisp transfer them to a plate lined with kitchen towel to drain off the oil and serve as soon as possible - with fish or meat as suggested above or with tomato salsa or tzatziki (cucumber and yoghurt dip) which would also work well.

I reckon you could add a tablespoon or two of grated parmesan to the mix if you have some or even some crumbled feta for a more substantial meal.

Do - or would - fritters go down well with your kids?


Sarah said...

My kids like corn fritters, and will eat most things in an egg frittata if I cut them up nice and small, except mushrooms, and no cheese.

I might get away with courgette fritters, will have to try them some time.

Fiona Beckett said...

@Sarah - yes, mine always did (like corn fritters) though I never quite regard them as truly virtuous veg. Good though. Let me know if the courgette ones work!

janerowena said...

The simplest italian peasant way is simply to grate them, place in a bowl with salt, allow the juices to come out and add flour until a thickish paste is formed, and leave for a while. Any herbs and spices you like can be added with the flour. Then fry and flatten slightly. No egg is needed, so I suppose it's cheaper, but it is still very delicious and much lighter.

Fiona Beckett said...

@janerowena these were quite light but will certainly try your version. Thanks!

Erin said...

Fritters have never worked with my little person - I put veg in macaroni cheese (pureed butternut squash), tomato sauce (courgettes) and smoothies (kale, spinach, chard). Meatballs, of all things, are a great veg delivery system. I've packed in kale and courgette and carrot.

Fiona Beckett said...

@Erin - wow, that's impressive! I managed once to make a tomato soup (with 4 other veg in it) that tasted like Heinz and a cottage pie with loads of veggies in the topping. Quite fun to see what you can sneak past kids when they haven't got their defences up!