These little fritters are the quintessential summer appetizer or hors d’oeuvre. Adults love them, kids love them, even picky eaters love them. They’re as addictive as they are easy to prepare. The basil leaves become crispy as they fry, while the lemon zest adds a bit of zing to the batter.
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*Note: Using baby zucchini is essential for this recipe. Larger ones have too much moisture. They’ll get soggy as they cook and cause the hot oil to splatter.
Mix the flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the water and whisk until the batter is smooth. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Then, whisk the egg into the batter until well blended. Add the zucchini, basil, and lemon zest and stir well, separating the zucchini slices so they’re well distributed throughout the batter. There should be enough batter to just coat the ingredients.
Heat 1/8-inch oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Grab 1 slice of zucchini and 1 or 2 pieces of basil with a spoon (fingers help with this job, too!) and drop the fritter into the hot oil. Repeat so that the fritters lay in 1 layer in the pan. Do not overcrowd the pan or the fritters will stick together and it will be harder to flip them.
Sauté the fritters until golden-brown, about 2-3 minutes. Flip the fritters and continue to sauté until golden brown on the other side, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all fritters have been used, reducing the heat to medium-high when the pan gets very hot so the oil doesn’t burn. Season the fritters with sea salt, to taste.
Place fritters in the center of each plate. Spoon the tomato coulis next to them or spoon into individual serving bowls. Serve the fritters piping hot.