Fritters are essentially a mixture of ingredients that are either pan-fried or deep-fried. They can be breaded or battered and contain just about anything such as, fruit (apple fritters), vegetables (corn fritters) or a combination of rice and cheese, meat or seafood (arancini).
There are also plain fritters that contain nothing at all and are made from either a pate a choux pastry or a yeast dough such as, French beignets, Italian zeppole and sfinci. These fried puffs of dough dusted with confectioner’s sugar are enjoyed plain or with a cream filling. Whether sweet or savory, fritters are casual, small bites usually eaten as finger food and are perfect for merende.
- 1 pound baby spinach, washed, dried
- Extra-virgin olive oil for sauteing spinach and frying fritters
- 2 cups ricotta
- 6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 egg, beaten
- Bread crumbs
- Using a large saute pan, heat a very small amount of olive oil and saute the spinach just until wilted. Cook in batches using only enough oil to keep the spinach from sticking to the pan. Season each batch with salt and pepper and then transfer to a large bowl. When all the spinach is cooked, taste and add more salt and/or pepper if necessary.
- Stir the ricotta and Parmesan cheese into the spinach and taste again for seasoning. Now, add the beaten egg and mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl and refrigerate (an hour or overnight) as this will help the mixture to firm up.
- Spoon some of the mixture onto a clean, dry surface and form into small patties and then coat both sides with the bread crumbs. If you want this to be finger food, use about 2 tablespoons of the spinach-ricotta. I have also made the fritters larger (3-inches) and served them as a first course, served with a simple tomato sauce.
- Once you’ve formed the mixture into the desired size and coated them with breadcrumbs, they should be refrigerated until ready to fry. I usually prepare them a day ahead, leaving nothing but the last minute frying (and holding in the oven to keep warm) before the party.
- Using a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and cook the fritters until crisp and brown on both sides. Serve immediately.