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30-minute meal: corn and zucchini fritters with harissa cauliflower steak recipe | Food

Before the constant rotation of glossy cookbooks and the ease of internet searches, “core recipes” were tried and true staples that a cook would know intuitively, build on, develop and share with friends.

A simple batter is one of these core recipes – it can be tweaked for savoury or sweet applications, used pan-fried, deep fried or baked. I like recipes that are predictable, solid and dependable, and this basic savoury batter is all three.

I use the batter, spiced slightly, for these pan-fried sweetcorn and zucchini fritters. I’ve also deep fried this mixture and baked it in little muffin moulds to create canapés too. It just seems to work, as I need, whatever the application I’m chasing: a light plant-based dinner, a fancy breakfast, finger food to share, a wholesome burger patty alternative.

You can also experiment with the batter to make it suit your needs. To make it gluten-free, substitute gluten-free flour for the plain flour. For a vegan version, use almond or soy milk and make a “chia egg” instead of using hen eggs. Chia eggs are 15g of chia seeds mixed with 50ml of warm water, and they can be substituted for one hen egg in most recipes that don’t need to rise.

I’ve given a nod to Morocco with these flavour combinations, with the backbone of some heat courtesy of red harissa paste. Spiced up or not, these fritters are an absolute star.

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Serves: 4

For the fritters
350g corn kernels
, raw and cut from the cob
250g zucchini,
raw, coarsely grated
100g red capsicum,
raw, cut into 2cm pieces
50g spring onion
, finely sliced
30g coriander and parsley
, rough chopped together, stalks and all
1/2 tsp smoky paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin seeds
Olive oil for pan frying

For the batter
150g plain flour
4g baking powder
4g sea salt
120g milk
2 free-range eggs

Weigh out the batter’s dry ingredients into a small bowl or jug. Slowly add the milk and mix continuously to avoid lumps, add the eggs one at a time to create a smooth thick batter.

Cut and grate the vegetables into a large bowl, add the spices and toss together. When ready to cook, add the batter in large spoonfuls and mix until the vegetables are just coated.

This volume of vegetables is ideal for the batter volume, but it’s best to judge as you go.

Heat some olive oil in a large nonstick pan, enough to just cover the base. Just before it starts to smoke add large spoonfuls of the veggie batter mixture, about the same size as your spatula, or they will be too big to flip well.

Reduce the heat to medium and cook until golden brown, this will take no more than five minutes.

Flip carefully and cook until the second side is golden, around three minutes. Rest on a cake rack while cooking further batches of fritters.

Serve with harissa yoghurt and cauliflower steaks.

For the cauliflower steaks
1/2 head cauliflower
Red harissa paste
Olive oil
Greek yoghurt
(or go plant-based with coconut yoghurt)

Cut 2cm slices of cauliflower, straight through the centre. Drizzle with olive oil and brush with a tablespoon or two of harissa (or wear gloves and smear it on).

Bake the cauliflower on a flat open tray for 10 minutes in a hot oven – 200°C. Flip the cauliflower steaks and bake until the harissa starts to caramelise and the cauliflower is just soft enough, another five minutes maximum.

Dollop thick greek yoghurt straight into a plate or small bowl, put small spoons of harissa on top and swirl through.

Platter the cauliflower steaks and fritters onto some salad leaves, and serve the harissa yoghurt on the side. Finish with some extra coriander sprigs, lemon wedges and sea salt.

Crisp steamed green beans and toasted almonds make a great accompaniment.

For later in the week

  • Stash any leftover batter for other random veggie fritters later in the week. Aim for a moderate moisture content of the vegetables; not too dry or too wet. The batter just needs to coat it and bind it all together.

  • Any uncooked veggie and batter mixture needs to be cooked into fritters within an hour or so, or you’ll get a mushy wet texture to the fritter.

  • Leftover fritters can be reheated in a hot oven, a sandwich press or crumbled into other dishes that need a bit of extra veggies, like a baked sweet potato or some couscous.

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