Recipe Review

A Cheap, Fast, and Veggie-Packed Dinner That Takes Me Just 10 Minutes to Make

updated Jun 3, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

I am constantly on the lookout for new ways to make vegetables the center of my plate. That used to mean cramming more into a pasta dinner or piling them onto toast — but then I (mistakenly) discovered veggie fritters.

Last fall, on a lazy Saturday afternoon, my husband and I were cooking through a few family recipes for an Indian feast we were hosting. I wanted to make something quick and easy that we could snack on while we cooked, and the first thing that came to mind was pakoras. The fritters are a street-food snack found all over India, and a common appetizer on restaurant menus worldwide. Growing up, it was pretty much guaranteed that my aunt and uncle, who lived in the town next to us, would put them out to nibble on when we’d visit for dinner. They’re usually made with vegetables like onion, spinach, or potato that are mixed with some spices and a chickpea flour batter before being deep-fried.

I only had a sweet potato on hand and I didn’t want to bother with deep-frying, so I grated the sweet potato, tossed it with some ground cumin and chopped cilantro, sprinkled in some chickpea flour, then drizzled in water until it was a sticky batter. I dropped spoonfuls of the mixture in a hot skillet to pan-fry, and in minutes I had a pakora-like snack we couldn’t get enough of. I quickly realized I could pretty much do this with any vegetable, and if I made them a little bigger I could enjoy them as a meatless, gluten-free meal that’s also packed with protein, thanks to the chickpea flour.

Credit: Sheela Prakash

Veggie Fritters Are a 2-Ingredient Revelation

These fritters really just require two ingredients: vegetables and chickpea flour (plus water, of course). Spices and herbs are welcomed, if you have them, but I often don’t even bother. What vegetables to use? You have a lot of choices.

  • Carrotsparsnips, sweet potatoes, turnips, and regular potatoes: Grate on a box grater and use as is.
  • Zucchini and summer squash: You’ll grate these, too, but they’ll need to be drained because of their high water content. Dump the grated vegetable into a colander set over a bowl, toss with a big pinch of salt, and let sit for 10 minutes. Then, press down on the squash with your hands or a wooden spoon to push out some of the liquid, wrap it in a clean kitchen towel, and squeeze out as much water as you can to get it as dry as possible.
  • Corn: Slice the kernels right off the cob or use straight from the freezer.
  • Broccoli and cauliflower: Finely chop the florets by hand, or use a food processor.
  • Kale, Swiss chard, and spinach: Blanch the greens, let cool, squeeze out any liquid, and chop.

The amount you use is up to you. As a rough guide, about 2 cups prepared vegetables will give you about four 3-inch fritters. I find that two fritters of this size, dolloped with Greek yogurt or hummus, is a not-too-heavy but satisfying lunch. When stuffed in a pita, added to a salad, or topped with a fried egg, they easily become dinner. Make them smaller and serve as an appetizer or snack, or make them bigger and enjoy as veggie burgers.

How to Make Veggie Fritters

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

1. Toss the vegetables with chickpea flour, salt, and pepper.

Use about 1/2 cup chickpea flour and a big pinch of salt and pepper for every 2 cups prepared vegetables. If you’re using spices or chopped herbs, add them here.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

2. Drizzle in the water and mix to combine.

Use about 2 tablespoons water for every 2 cups prepared vegetables.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

3. Check to see if you can form a patty in your hands and it holds together.

The batter should be sticky but not overly wet and runny. If it’s too dry, add a little more water to the mixture; if it’s too wet, add a little more flour.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

4. Heat a generous drizzle of olive or vegetable oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron or nonstick, over medium-high heat until shimmering.

Drop 1/4 cup of batter into the pan, flatten it slightly with a flat spatula, and continue dropping more batter, leaving a couple of inches between each fritter.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

5. Fry until golden-brown on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes, then flip and fry until browned on the other side and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

6. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and repeat with remaining batter, if you have any.

Enjoy warm, room temperature, or even cold. They’ll keep well in the fridge for up to a week and can even be frozen for a couple of months. To reheat, heat on a baking sheet in a 325°F oven until warmed through.