This is my second summer getting a farm share, or CSA. In the past, I’ve felt obligated to honor each ingredient with its own special recipe. Eggplant? Eggplant parmesan. Cucumber? Homemade pickles. Fennel? Macaroni and cheese with caramelized fennel and toasted breadcrumbs. Meanwhile, I was spending hours in the kitchen and purchasing tons of extra ingredients.
This summer, scrambling to make use of all the vegetables before they spoil, I’ve taken a simpler approach. Anything green, I sauté with olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Anything root-like, I roast or pan-fry.
Cooking this way, I’ve saved a lot of time and energy. But I’ve also been able to savor the pure flavors of different vegetables. Sometimes the simplest preparations are the best. It’s not necessary to make a complicated recipe to take full advantage of the summer’s bounty.
While I was frying up these fritters, I was thinking — does this attitude spill over into other areas of my life? How often do we let the vision of a perfect end result stifle our creativity?
You may have heard the saying, “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” I agree wholeheartedly. But I challenge the idea that if you’ve given up striving for perfection, the best you can possibly hope to achieve is “good.” Instead, by freeing ourselves from perfectionism, we allow ourselves to play around and make discoveries that might actually be pretty outstanding. Like these fritters!
This recipe is a hybrid of a few recipes. I drew inspiration from Yotam Ottolenghi’s sweet potato cakes and Elise Bauer’s zucchini fritters. Apparently, even though pattypan squash resembles winter squash, it’s basically just a giant, weirdly-shaped zucchini!
Squash and sweet potato fritters
Serves 2-4 (makes about 15 fritters)
- 1 pound sweet potatoes
- 1 large or 2 small pattypan squash
- 2-3 scallions
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3/4 – 1 cup flour
- salt and pepper, to taste
- butter, for frying
- neutral oil, for frying
- Cube sweet potatoes and boil until tender. Mash and set aside.
- Grate squash on a large box grater. Place into a colander and sprinkle with salt. Mix and let rest for a few minutes.
- Squeeze as much moisture as possible out of the grated squash, using your hands or a cheesecloth.
- Chop the scallions finely.
- Combine grated squash, mashed sweet potato, scallions, soy sauce, and egg in a large bowl. Add flour until mixture is thick and not too moist.
- Heat a combination of butter and oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Dollop batter into pan and fry, 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked.
- Serve with yogurt, if desired.