Appetizer: Gluten-Free Squash Fritters and Spicy Yogurt Sauce
I was a tortilla-making machine over La Fiesta weekend. As I was cranking them out, Rica, my housekeeper, was looking upon me with proud affection (she thinks I was Mexican in my last life). Still, though, I had extra masa (corn flour) in my pantry and I continue to be knee deep in yellow squash. Thus in my determination to be resourceful with what I’ve got on hand, this fritter was created. It’s really tasty, I served it here as you see in the picture with a spicy yogurt sauce and cilantro leaf, but it would be equally good served as an accompaniment to a simple green salad with fresh chopped salsa spooned over the top. Plus, since it’s gluten free, it’s a great recipe to have in your repertoire when you’re inviting friends over with dietary restrictions.
Makes 22 pieces
2 packed cups squash or zucchini, grated
¼ cup onion, grated
1 tsp salt
Mix the squash and onion in a bowl and toss with salt. Let sit for 5–10 minutes and then empty the contents of the bowl into a clean, thin kitchen towel or flour sack.
Ring as much of the juices out of the squash and onion as possible. There will be a lot of liquid, so do this over your sink or compost bucket.
¼ cup masa
½ tsp salt
½ tsp Aleppo pepper*
1–2 tablespoons grape seed oil
Spicy yogurt sauce (recipe below)
Combine the squash mixture thoroughly with the masa, egg, salt, and Aleppo pepper. With a 2-teaspoon ice cream scooper (this tool is one size smaller than the average ice cream scooper), scoop balls of mixture onto a cookie sheet until all the ingredients are gone. Be sure to leave about 2 inches between each ball. With your hands, gently form the balls until they are about 1 inch thick, bite-sized disks. Place a 12-inch skillet on medium-high heat, adding 1 tablespoon of oil to pan (reserving the rest for more batches at the end of the cooking process.
When the pan is hot and it sizzles, add a bit of water, add 6 fritters at a time and cook for about 3 minutes per side.
Carefully blot with paper towels and keep warm in a low oven (200 degrees) or warming drawer until you are ready to serve. Just before serving, dollop each fritter with a small spoon of yogurt sauce and garnish with one cilantro leaf.
The sauce is a great multi-tasker. I also use it for grilled fish and as a sandwich spread. You can substitute sour cream for the yogurt, but I prefer the healthier choice of yogurt.
Spicy Yogurt Sauce
1 6-oz container of Greek yogurt
1 tsp sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon minced white onion (optional)
Pinch of salt
Mix ingredients in your yogurt container and it’s ready to use. Store in fridge for up to one week.
*Aleppo pepper is a mild pepper from northern Syria, found at most international markets. When crushed and dried into flakes, it’s a spice used in a lot of Middle-Eastern cuisine. Mildly spicy with a sweet, earthy flavor, I use it in numerous dishes. If you can’t find it, try using sweet paprika in its place.
You can mix the fritter ingredients in advance. After you shape them into disks, wrap well and freeze them. Simply finish the last cooking process when needed — remember, they need a little extra time in the pan if they come directly from the freezer. I made a big batch and can put this together quickly if unexpected guests stop by.