Centrolina’s Zucchini Fritters (Frittelle di Zucca), with a fava bean puree. (Renee Comet/For the Washington Post; styling by Bonnie S. Benwick)

Amy Brandwein can make you see the upside of a seasonal zucchini glut. The chef-owner of Centrolina in CityCenterDC has a knack for crafting beautiful plates using simple, good ingredients. Here, she pairs an earthy-sweet fava bean puree with airy, moist grated-zucchini pancakes, served as a starter or with a salad.

Just after the spoonfuls of batter hit the pan, she drops a zucchini flower petal or two on top — an artful touch that adds texture and color.

Zucchini Fritters (Frittelle di Zucca)

8 servings

MAKE AHEAD The fava bean puree can be refrigerated up to 3 days in advance; its color may darken slightly. The fritter batter needs to rest for 15 minutes before using.


For the puree

Kosher salt

2 cups shelled fava beans (fresh or frozen/defrosted; may substitute fresh or frozen green peas)

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup packed, chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 clove garlic, chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

For the fritters

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, cut into small dice (2 cups)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 large eggs

2 tablespoons whole-milk ricotta cheese

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

2 cups grated or shredded (unpeeled) green zucchini

3 tablespoons flour

Zucchini blossoms

Pea shoots or microgreens, for garnish (optional)


For the puree: Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Fill a bowl with ice and cold water.

Add a generous pinch of kosher salt, then 2 cups of fresh or frozen fava beans; once the water returns to a boil, cook for 30 seconds, then drain and immediately transfer the fava beans to the ice-water bath. Peel and discard the loosened outer layers, transferring the favas to a high-powered blender or food processor as you work. Add 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, water, 1/4 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves and 1 chopped clove garlic; puree to a chunky consistency. With the motor running, gradually drizzle in 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Taste, and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed.

Heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a saute pan over medium-low heat. Stir in 2 cups diced onions; cook for 25 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are just beginning to caramelize. Season lightly with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Beat 4 large eggs in a mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons whole-milk ricotta, 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, 2 cups grated or shredded green (unpeeled) zucchini, 3 tablespoons flour and the cooled onions, stirring gently to form a thick batter. Season lightly with salt and pepper; let sit for 15 minutes.

Heat 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil in a wide nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, drop in 4 or 5 spoonfuls of the batter, spaced well apart; they should pool into fritters about 2 inches across. Immediately place 1 or 2 small, thin zucchini flowers on top of each fritter, if using. (If they do not bubble at the edges right away, increase the heat to medium-high). Cook for about 30 seconds or until just browned on the edges, then carefully turn them over and cook for about 30 seconds on the other sides. Turn them over one more time (back to the first sides); cook for 15 seconds, then transfer to a wire rack. Season lightly with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To serve, spread some of the fava bean puree at the center of each plate. Arrange 3 zucchini fritters on top. Garnish with a larger zucchini flower and pea shoots or microgreens, if you like.

SOURCE From Amy Brandwein, chef-restaurateur at Centrolina in CityCenterDC.

NUTRITIONAL ANALYSIS Per serving | 430 calories, 10 g protein, 15 g carbohydrates, 38 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 100 mg cholesterol, 180 mg sodium 3 g fiber, 3 g sugar

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick email questions to the Food Section.

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