There seems to be an endless supply of zucchini this time of year. I’ve been serving zucchini in some form or another for years. We even grew it one summer. Yet, my children have never touched zucchini, at least that I can remember, and they’re teenagers: 13 and 16. Kids need to see a food upwards of 20 times before they’ll try it. We're definitely well beyond that with zucchini! Yes, it's helpful to offer a food in different forms and I definitely have done that, too. I’ve often felt like throwing in the towel and just assuming they don’t like this vegetable and never will. There have been times over the years that I’ve felt SO frustrated that they haven’t even taken the tiniest taste! It’s hard to resist the urge to coax a child to try different foods and I’ve had years of practice. I feel your pain!
Pandemic Silver Lining
One of the positive things to come out of the pandemic is that I’ve had much more time to plan meals and cook. The lack of a commute to work, coupled with not ferrying my kids all over to their activities, has left me with the elusive gift of some extra time.
I felt like I’d been stuck in a rut repeating a couple of handfuls of meals and not much new. But with this gift of time, that’s changed! I’m loving cooking so many new recipes, including some new zucchini recipes!
Recently, I’ve made roasted zucchini; fettuccine tossed with corn, diced zucchini, basil, and lemon and zucchini fritters. Offering a food in different forms gives everyone different opportunities to try foods. @smittenkitchen had a zucchini recipe in her feed recently, so I decided I’d give it a try. I’ve never made (or eaten) zucchini fritters. GUESS WHAT???? One of my children ate the fritters and even LIKED them!
Zucchini fritters are so simple to make and they don’t take long to cook, which makes them perfect for a hot evening. They also reheat well if there are any leftovers.
I added feta cheese and some herbs. After I made them the first time, my 16 year old suggested I coat them with bread crumbs, so they’d be nice and crispy. Such a great idea! She was right! I like them both ways with just a slight preference for the fritters coated in bread crumbs.
Serve the fritters with sour cream or tzatziki. You could also make the sauce from the original Smitten Kitchen recipe if you prefer. You can serve these as a side or a main dish. I served them as a side with pesto pasta and a salad. I just put them on a plate and placed them on the table with a serving utensil so everyone could help themselves. This way there was NO PRESSURE for anyone to try them. I knew everyone could fill up on other parts of the meal. If there’s no pressure to try new food, kids may be more likely to try it.
Just Keep Offering!
The moral of the story here is to KEEP OFFERING! If you read the opening paragraph (no worries if you didn’t! Most of the time I skim blog posts.), you’ll remember my kids are TEENAGERS who had never eaten zucchini. One of them has now eaten zucchini at least 6 times in the weeks since first trying a zucchini fritter! DON’T GIVE UP!
What's a food you've offered for years without anyone trying it?
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- 1 lb 2 medium zucchini
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or ½ teaspoon table salt plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon fresh basil chopped
- ½ teaspoon fresh oregano chopped
- ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1 egg
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil for cooking the fritters
- *Optional: ¾ cup panko bread crumbs for coating the fritters before cooking
- Wash the zucchini and trim off the ends. Grate each zucchini on the large holes of a box grater.
- (Or you can use the grater blade on a food processor). Place the grated zucchini in a mesh colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and mix with your hands to distribute the salt. Let sit for at least 20 minutes. (The salt will draw the water out of the zucchini).
- While the zucchini rests, chop the basil and oregano and mix together with the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl.
- Once 20 minutes has passed, wring out the zucchini by squeezing handfuls of it at a time. (This is a fun activity for kids if you have them). You’ll get a lot of water out! Give each handful of zucchini a few really good squeezes.
- Taste the zucchini to see if it needs more salt and add more if needed.
- Add the wrung out zucchini to the flour and herb mixture. Add the egg and crumbled feta along with a few turns of freshly ground pepper and mix gently until combined.
- Add about 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a frying pan (I used a cast iron pan) over medium high heat. While the pan is heating, form the mixture into small cakes and set aside on a plate. (You can also just drop about a ¼ cup at a time into the heated frying pan if you don’t want to form them into cakes).
- Cook on each side until golden brown (3-5 minutes each side). Remove the fritters from the pan and place them on a paper towel lined plate for a few minutes. If you’d like to keep them warm while you finish cooking all the batter, place them on a ¼ sheet pan in a 250F oven.