spicy zucchini and ricotta fritters

We’re getting our first real cold front this weekend. As I type, it’s only 37 degrees out, and tonight it will be even colder. Of course, this is Florida, so we can still wear shorts and flip flops later today, if we choose. But this morning, it’s all long-sleeves and sweaters and cuddling on the sofa with a cozy red blanket.

I’ve been having pangs of wistfulness for the days before we adjusted our clocks back one week ago. I adored gaining that extra hour – though I can’t think of anything productive that I did with it – but I do miss the early evening sunlight. I miss being able to sit on my front porch when I get home from work, rocking in my rocker and listening to the birds and squirrels.

It’s just not the same, sitting there in the dark.

Our summer and early fall vegetables tend to hang around for a while, thanks to our warm Florida climate. Some of you up north may even still have zucchini showing up in the markets. If you do, these Spicy Zucchini and Ricotta Fritters make great use of the vegetable. You could omit the jalapeno and cayenne, if you wish, but I don’t recommend it. The heat really adds something to the recipe.

The fritters make for a wonderful vegetarian side dish or appetizer, but they also make for a great light lunch. My daughter and I did just that one day, sitting down to a batch of zucchini fritters and a couple of glasses of iced tea. Madeline enjoyed them so much that I had to keep her from eating the whole batch.

Yield: approx 15 fritters

Spicy Zucchini & Ricotta Fritters

These make a wonderful vegetarian side dish or appetizer. Be sure to serve with lemon, for squeezing over the top right before taking a bite.


2 medium zucchini, coarsely shredded
1/2 jalapeno, stemmed and seeded, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
Zest from one lemon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
Olive oil, for frying
Lemon wedges, for serving


In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, jalapeno, garlic, scallions, ricotta cheese, eggs, lemon zest, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Stir well until combined. Add the flour and cornmeal and stir until incorporated.

Line a large baking sheet with paper towels. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of olive oil over moderate high heat until shimmering. In batches, add 2-tablespoon mounds of zucchini batter to the hot oil, spreading them out to form approximately 3-inch fritters. Fry until browned and crisp, turning once, about 3 minutes total. Drain the fritters on the paper towels and serve immediately. Serve with lemon wedges.

*Fritters can made in advance. Store for up to 2 hours at room temperature. Re-warm in a 325 degree oven.

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13 Responses to “the fleeting summer and a recipe: balsamic roasted summer vegetables”

  1. Kiran @ KiranTarun.com — August 5, 2011 @ 1:33 am

    These looks so delish! I love summer produce. It has so much flavor that requires simple prep and minimal ingredients to enjoy. Glad you had quality time with the family 🙂

  2. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — August 5, 2011 @ 1:50 am

    MJ this is a dish that I make often myself – I love it! What a beautiful post too, your writing is so evokative 🙂 And don’t we all need more time… Sigh.

  3. I know how you feel; seems I’ve had some of that same almost melancholy feeling and it’s hard to put your finger on it. The strange thing for me is that even with my kids grown, that season of school starting still impacts my mindset about the end of the summer season.

    I’ll often do much the same as you’ve done but use a grill basket outside; sometimes there is just nothing better than summer fresh produce prepared as simply as possible. Looks beautiful too!

  4. chinmayie @ love food eat — August 5, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

    It sounds like you had a great vacation! It is hard to get back to reality after such a dreamy week 😉
    This recipe looks delicious! with so many gorgeous colorful vegetables that looks like heaven!

  5. sweetsugarbelle — August 5, 2011 @ 4:23 pm

    I don’t love summer but I have the same feeling. The only consolation is that it will be soup weather. And next year I will plant a garden. Im looking forward to that. I love roasted veggies. Lookinforward to tying this one!

  6. Heidi @ Food Doodles — August 5, 2011 @ 11:41 pm

    Ah, I know what you mean about summer! I’m looking forward to fall flavors but I need some more summer! Your roasted veggies look great – I love roasting veggies when I have a lot to use up. And they’re so yummy 🙂

  7. Paula — August 6, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

    Your vegetables look amazing! I certainly understand what you are talking about regarding summer. Your vacation sounded so peaceful and relaxing. Seems of late that the only time I have to really get into a book is sadly, reserved for vacation times. I think what I took away from this post the most was that we all need to take mini vacations away from our computers and indulge ourselves with the luxury of other things in life that give us so much peace and pleasure.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — August 7th, 2011 @ 11:57 am

      You are SO right, Paula. I find that if I have little mini-breaks through the year, I’m a much happier woman.

  8. Lucy — August 8, 2011 @ 11:36 am

    Your vacation sounds so wonderful and relaxing. There is nothing like getting away with friends and family. I spent part of the weekend in the mountains with some girlfriends, and we started laughing because we all kept pulling out our phones and one was on her laptop. Then we noticed her tshirt which had one word on the front: Unplugged.

    So hard to do!

  9. Di — August 8, 2011 @ 3:11 pm

    The older I get the more I find that August brings an irrepressible sadness with it. The sun is repositioning, the days are getting shorter and the time we make for ourselves and those closest to us seems harder to find. I don’t think we like to be reminded that winter is coming; like children we try to hold onto spring and summer. I think perhaps the seasons represent a metoaphor for our lives. I suppose we should try our best to savor the moments we have today and look forward to our tomorrows! Your balsamic roasted vegetables and one of those mojitos are two things that will definitely brighten my tomorrow (or perhaps even my tonight!)

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  11. Katelyn — June 24, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

    I just want you to know I’ve made this once a week, every week all summer (in New Orleans summer started somewhere between 6 weeks and 2 months ago). It’s such a great way to use fresh, local ingredients and I just wanted you to know I’ve enjoyed your recipe!

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