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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22 Responses to “saying thanks with dinner, and pound cake for a crowd”

  1. Paula - bell'alimento — September 19, 2012 @ 8:19 pm

    Your team is very lucky indeed. I have a soft spot for pound cake.

  2. Lana @ Never Enough Thyme — September 19, 2012 @ 8:33 pm

    I think your team is lucky to have such a thoughtful attending and your patients are extremely lucky to have you and your team. I speak from experience when I say that patients and their families appreciate, maybe more than you can imagine, a kind word and a thoughtful gesture from those who provide care. But, you already knew that. That caring and thoughtful shows through every word of this post 🙂

  3. Mallory — September 19, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

    Lovely. Those first days can be so scary and intimidating and with monthly rotations, first days occur, well monthly. Thank you for sharing and there is nothing better than pound cake – so simple, yet always hits the spot.

  4. Macaroni Mama — September 19, 2012 @ 8:48 pm

    I love this blog, MJ.

  5. Lana — September 20, 2012 @ 1:21 am

    It could have been me standing there that July, second-guessing myself, the heart threatening to jump out of my chest, the pulse in mid-hundreds:) That’s what makes you a great doctor and a wonderful human being.
    My dad is a doctor (retired, but it never stops:) and I remember him silent and grave on many days and nights. When I was in Serbia this last summer, I went to see a woman he personally mentored and taught for years (ObGyn). She still adores him, and I can only imagine what a great impression you leave on your interns.
    Your story touched me, especially after my mom succumbed to cancer this summer. I know how important is that human touch, a kind word, and understanding only your MD can offer.
    BTW, the pound cake looks lovely and I don’t doubt for a second that the students look at you with awe:)

  6. Kathryn — September 20, 2012 @ 4:25 am

    Every post of yours is so finely crafted and yet it seems so effortless. It’s a complete joy to read.

  7. Jenny @ BAKE — September 20, 2012 @ 6:32 am

    this is an absolutely brilliantly written post, it really made me smile!

  8. Melanie @ Nutritious Eats — September 20, 2012 @ 10:40 am

    Great stories and lessons shared. I admire Doctors so much and you amaze me that you have all these other talents too.

  9. Winnie — September 20, 2012 @ 10:51 am

    Echoing the thoughts of everyone who has commented that this is a terrific post. You are such a special person…I am so honored to call you my friend. xoxo

  10. Paula — September 20, 2012 @ 10:52 am

    I’m sure members of your team have peeked into your kitchen and experienced the same thing you did when you peeked into your attending’s kitchen years ago. Loving you and working with you must come easy to all of them.

  11. ~ callee ~ — September 20, 2012 @ 11:17 am

    I adore the plate you served the pound cake on – those are gorgeous! I absolutely love saying thank you with supper as well. I am so glad you have such wonderful groups of people to work with!

  12. Aggie — September 20, 2012 @ 11:27 am

    You are so real MJ, I just loved reading this. I know your students appreciate everything you have taught them.
    This cake is absolutely gorgeous.

  13. Denise — September 20, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

    I love that you bring your team into your home as well as your heart by nurturing them with food. We recently started doing the same when he hire staff for a big project, and was surprised by how grateful they were. Not only for a home-cooked meal but to be let into our lives beyond work.

    I applaud people in your line of work – strong and courageous. Our niece is studying to become an oncologist, I find her very brave, I do not handle death very well and feel I would be a basket case all the time. Bravo for what you do and the difference you make in people’s lives.

  14. Heidi — September 20, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

    What a fabulous blog, loved reading this and that cake looked amazing x

  15. Diane Barnes, RN — September 20, 2012 @ 7:04 pm

    After 28 years of nursing, I can tell you it is true: a smart doctor knows what a valuable resource the bedside nurse can be. It’s great to be appreciated. Thank you!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — September 22nd, 2012 @ 7:39 am

      No, thank YOU!

  16. Lynda - TasteFood — September 20, 2012 @ 8:34 pm

    I like women with messy kitchens. xo.

  17. Mary — September 20, 2012 @ 11:09 pm

    I am continually blown away by your beautiful humanity and attention to the nuances that knit everything together. Bravo!

  18. Di — September 21, 2012 @ 11:23 am

    The cake looks delicious. Preparing food is so wonderfully comforting, isn’t it? It’s like a good friendship, always there when you need it. What did you make for dinner?

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — September 22nd, 2012 @ 7:39 am

      My husband cooked three chickens on the Big Green Egg smoker (love when he helps!) and I made some macaroni and cheese and a roasted ratatouille to go along with it.

  19. Carolyn — September 22, 2012 @ 5:38 am

    Such a wonderful, touching post. Today is my birthday, and this is definitely one of my gifts, so thank you. My dad passed away a few years ago from a messy combination of Hodgkins and CLL, and although he had wonderful, compassionate doctors, it helps a lot to feel this much genuine humanity behind your profession. xx

  20. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — September 30, 2012 @ 10:28 pm

    Pound cake is one of my all-time favorites, and this version looks just perfect. What a lovely way to say thank you! 🙂

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