Crisp vegetable fritters with a tangy dipping sauce
All over the world fritters are a popular snack food and appetiser. They’re not necessarily the healthiest food, being deep fried, but we believe in everything in moderation. Also, we stick to fresh seasonal veg so these are a great way of getting littleuns to try something new. We recently did a cookery class where we got a group of sceptical teenage boys to eat nettles we’d just foraged by coating them in batter and getting them nice a crispy.
For the tomato sauce:
4 onions, chopped
A bunch of celery, or 5 good stalks of lovage, or a mix of both and a bit of parsley
4 tbsp cooking oil (I use smoked rapeseed oil for extra depth)
5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tsp ground coriander, toasted
10 allspice berries, ground up (or 1 tsp)
1 stick of cinnamon or cassia bark, or ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp pepper (I use Sichuan)
1½-2kg yellow tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp tomato purée
½ tsp tabasco sauce, or half a chilli or a pinch of chilli powder
200ml organic cider vinegar
A splash of kombucha vinegar
200g golden caster sugar
For the fritto misto:
8 small courgettes with flowers
1 aubergine, thinly sliced
2 spring onions
10 nettle tips
A bunch of sage
5 chestnut mushrooms, halved
For the batter:
3 tbsp oil
1 free range organic egg white
Deep frying oil such as sunflower
Sauté the onions and celery or lovage for 5 mins in the oil. Add the garlic and spices and cook for another 2-3 mins, then add the tomatoes, puree, tabasco, vinegars and sugar and bring to the boil. Simmer it all together for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking.
Remove the cinnamon stick and whizz the mix with a stick blender until smooth, then sieve into a bowl. The ketchup will thicken a little when it cools, but reduce more if you want it thicker. Keep the sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 months, or you can freeze it in batches.
Prepare your artichokes by removing the outer leaves and the chokes (spikey fibres under the purple leaves on top of the heart). Squeeze some lemon into a bowl with water. Peel the stems and remove the tough outer parts. Cut the artichoke heart in half and cut the heart and stem into long slices. Immerse the newly revealed artichoke pieces in the lemon water to prevent it oxidising.
For the batter, put the flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour the oil into the well, then mix it with the flour while slowly adding 300ml warm water. Mix until the batter is smooth, with the consistency of double cream. In a separate, clean glass bowl, whisk the egg white to soft peaks. Carefully fold it into the batter.
Put a deep, heavy-based pan containing the sunflower oil on the heat until the oil is 180C, or alternatively use a deep fat fryer. Preheat the oven to its lowest setting. Drain the artichokes and pat dry using kitchen paper.
Fry the vegetables in batches, each type separately (cook the chard and sage leaves together) by dipping them into the batter, shaking off any excess, then deep-frying them in the hot oil for 3-4 mins, or until crisp and golden brown all over. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm in the oven while you cook the next batch.
Season the fritters with salt and pepper or your favourite herb or spice mix. Squeeze a little lemon over and dip in your tomato sauce.
ALTERNATIVE Other favourite seasonal veg to fritter are: cauliflower, kale, purple sprouting broccoli and wild garlic, which result in scrumptious delicate little onion rings
Recipe: Abi Aspen Glencross and Sadhbh Moore