What am I going to do with all this squash? If you have ever grown squash and zucchini, or you attend Texas farmers markets, there is no lack of squash and zucchini during the summer. This recipe came to me in a flash of inspiration and I’m a little crazy about it. The croquette is fried. It is hot and crisp, and it is a great served with a thick tomato slice and a cold dollop of herb mayonnaise. It is an exercise in nice contrasts, color-wise and otherwise.
You can use all squash, if you choose to. I like the zucchini because it adds a little flash of color. I also cubed the zucchini, while I shredded the squash. Again, it gives a little textural contrast even within the croquette. The frying takes no time at all, so the squash and zucchini are just al dente when you remove them from the oil. It is really nice, I think. I have chosen to use but two cups of peanut oil, so you fry them on one side and then turn them to cook on the other. Serve them hot. Prepare your plates with baby arugula and the slice of tomato, and have the mayonnaise ready to go. I think you are going to like this. This makes 8 croquettes. And, given the ingredients, it might be one of my most economical recipes for serving eight people.
Also, this is another good reason to start an herb garden. I used a little of everything. If I didn’t have it right outside my door and was paying for each bundle, I probably would have only used basil.
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup assorted fresh herbs (mostly basil, some oregano, sage, parsley, and Mexican mint marigold)
2 green onions, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 yellow squash, grated
1 zucchini, cut in ¼” cubes
1½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided use
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
½ cup plain bread crumbs
1½ tablespoons flour
¾ cup cornmeal
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups peanut oil
2 cups baby arugula
Combine the mayonnaise and the herbs, onions and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the herbs are finely chopped and incorporated fully. Spoon the prepared mayonnaise into a small bowl and place it in the refrigerator until serving time.
Toss the grated squash and cubed zucchini with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and allow it to sit for 20 minutes. Use paper towels to press on the squash and zucchini to soak up the expelled water. Combine the zucchini, squash, cheese, breadcrumbs, and flour in a large bowl. Add the egg and stir to combine. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes and then form the squash mixtures into ½“ thick patties.
Combine the cornmeal, cayenne and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt on a plate. Carefully, but thoroughly, coat each squash patty with the cornmeal. Heat the oil in a 10” skillet to 350 degrees. Carefully place four of the patties into the oil and allow them to fry until they are golden on the bottom. Turn and cook on the second side. Remove to a plate covered with a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining patties.
Divide the arugula between serving plates. Place a thick tomato slice on each plate. Place a croquette on each tomato and top it with a dollop of the herb mayonnaise.
You will be amazed by how much water zucchini and squash will expel once you expose them to salt. Don’t skip that step. It doesn’t take long and makes a big difference. They will still be slightly damp when they go into the bowl and this will help the binding process with the flour and bread crumbs. Also, these croquettes would be great without the salad set-up too. But do make the mayo, regardless. Frying is turning into a lost art. If you are not sure whether your oil is hot enough and you are having a hard time with the thermometer in such shallow oil, make a tiny ball of the batter and place it in the oil to test it. If it immediately begins to bubble you are ready to go. If your oil is not hot enough, the batter will absorb the oil. If it is too hot, it will brown before the middle gets hot enough. And, remember, always be careful when you fry. Tell any kids to get out of the kitchen for this part.
If you haven’t gotten to know your neighborhood or community farmers market yet, this is a great recipe to do so. You will find ample zucchini, squash, and tomatoes right now in many areas, but especially in Texas. Here is my list of local markets in Dallas. Also, I haven’t downloaded it yet, but I’ve seen that the Dallas Morning News has developed an iPhone app to keep us updated on the markets! This is on my to-do list. And, I’d like to also welcome St. Michael’s and All Angels church to the Dallas farmers market scene. They will open for business on June 30, 2012 and I am excited about it. Get out and meet your community. There is really no better way than finding and supporting your farmers market.