Byron Bay over New Years was perfect in so many ways. It’s a place where music just sounds better and drinks slide down more easily. People laugh harder and they smile bigger; they share experiences and ideas that aren’t limited to the one small city they come from or the single state of mind they filter their own world through. They think more and they see more. The beaches feel sacred even though you know they’re touched and the sticky air hums with a vibe that’s simply at ease with itself. It makes you at ease with yourself. The atmosphere is so intrinsically happy that you feel at home in streets you’ve never walked through, hostels you’ve never slept in with people you’ve never met. You know every little thing is better in Byron, just because it is. If you try to explain why, you’ll only ruin it for yourself.
I guess that’s why some people love to travel so much: they have an uncontainable itch to experience those places first hand, the places that no great storyteller, elaborate travel blog or perfectly filtered photo could ever do justice to.
I was planning on writing one blog post to celebrate my glorious week at Byron Bay over New Years (presumably in early January after my return), and another to mourn the devastating death of another Australian summer (presumably in early March after the sunny season’s decease in February). I clearly failed to deliver either post, because April is nearly upon us. Let’s just say that with two part-time jobs and a manic schedule at a new Uni, I’m lucky to fit a shower into my weekly schedule, let alone a blog post. Tear, tear.
But right now, I’ve got seven hours worth of lecture recordings to catch up on, hundreds of pages worth of academic papers to read (skim over), two research assignments to write (begin researching for) and several online tests to complete (attempt). Despite all this and my truest intentions to make a dent in it this afternoon, I’ve chosen to sit in the university library, sippin’ on chai tea with Asics-encased feet up on the couch (I don’t even put shoes on the couches at home, but I’m allowed to here because the chick next to me is doing it and the guy opposite is resting his shoes on the table like a footrest, and it’s worth noting that they look respectable, so shoe-furniture contact is therefore totally acceptable here) and I’m writing this blog post on a recipe which honours both my brazen Byron adventure, and another all-too few and far between summer season. Priorities, I tell ya! I’ve so got my life sorted.
So here we go…
Being the well-documented scab that I am, I always have to taste every meal ordered by each person I’m out with, often when I haven’t even tasted my own dish yet. If ever they object, I justify my request by pulling out the “poor Ashlyn with fructose issues” card, whereby they’re reminded (yet again) in a high-pitched whine that I can’t actually order restaurant dishes as tasty as theirs, and that denying me the simple human pleasure of tasting toothsome delights would be inhumanly cruel.
My mum almost always opts for the ‘zucchini and sweet corn fritter’ option if it’s available on a brunch menu, so you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ve tasted around 95% of the zucchini fritters offered around Melbourne. Of course, some are lovely and tasty and lovely, and some are not so. The reason I never actually order my own is because I’m yet to come across a zucchini fritter on a Melbourne menu that isn’t either full of onion or made with refined wheat flour. Given this frustration, it’s a wonder why I haven’t tried to come up with my own version before. Thankfully, a vibrant little gem in Byron Bay known as Manna Haven gave me all the inspiration I needed.
I couldn’t have been more in my element in Byron. Everywhere I turned my eager little head was a pretty sign pointing me to the nearest organic feasts, açai bowls, green smoothies, frozen coconut yoghurt bars and raw treats. Of all the wonderful cafes and stores, however, Manna Haven stood out. The Haven’s set up is charmingly quaint, the menu sublime and their service unmatched. The waiter looked totally unphased as I timidly informed him of my fructose issues. As usual, I interpreted this as him having no knowledge about fructose. When I tried again, this time asking if there was anything on the menu he thought I might be able to have, he simply said:
“Of course there is, choose anything you like!” Did he not get that I couldn’t eat half of the ingredients in every single menu item except for the herbal teas? I clearly needed to get more specific. I asked him if there was onion in their ‘Flipping Fritters’, and told him I was aware that there’d already be garlic and /or onion in the tzatziki and quinoa tabbouleh the fritters were served with, and asked if I could have a simple side salad instead. “There certainly is, but if I tell you what goes into each component, you tell me what you can’t have, and the chef will make it all from scratch!”
***angelic heaven-worshipping sound effect***
Within 20 minutes, I had a fabulous plate of zucchini and sweetcorn fritters before me, complete with a side of quinoa tabbouleh, tzatziki and a green smoothie made with ingredients of my choice to wash it all down with. I savoured every mouthful and knew that I had to make my own inspired version once I got home. It only took me over two months, but it’s finally here: my Zucchini, Sweet Corn and Feta Fritters. With gluten and dairy free substitutions, there’s an option for almost anyone (sorry my lovely vegans, this recipe calls for eggs. You’re welcome to try it without them and use a little coconut milk instead. If it doesn’t work, don’t blame me – I’m pro-eggie!)
These patties are wonderful served with eggs for breakfast, as a lunch meal with smoked salmon, avocado salsa, lemon and rocket or as a snack with pumpkin seed butter. You can even wrap them up and snack on them cold while you’re on the go.
Zucchini, Sweet Corn & Feta Fritters
Makes about 15 fritters (serves 5)
Dietary info: vegetarian, fructose friendly, low FODMAP*, refined sugar free, dairy free option, gluten free option. Contains nuts (almonds).
- 700g zucchini, grated
- 8 spring onions (green part only), chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
- Zest of 1 lemon, grated
- 420g can corn kernels* (unsweetened and no or salt)
- 3 organic free range eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1/2 cup whole meal spelt flour** (see notes for GF alternatives)
- 150g Persian/Bulgarian/Danish feta (optional – omit if dairy free)
- Place the grated zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Toss with your hands to distribute the salt amongst the zucchini. Place the colander in a large bowl (to catch the water from the zucchini), cover and leave for 1 hour or longer, if possible. Refrigerate if leaving for a longer period of time. During this time, the salt will help to suck the moisture out of the zucchini so you’re not left with soggy patties.
- In the meantime, combine the sweet corn, spring onion, herbs, lemon rind and eggs. Add the almond meal and half of the spelt flour. Combine well.
- When the zucchini is ready, grab handfuls and squeeze out any excess water before adding to the rest of the ingredients.
- Crumble the feta into chunks if using and mix well but carefully, so as to not to break it up totally – little chunks of feta are best.
- At this stage, you can assess the consistency of the batter. You’ll most likely need to add the rest of the spelt flour, but this will depend on how well the zucchini has drained. If the mixture seems too wet, add more spelt or almond meal, mixing well between additions, until the mixture is moist enough to all hold together, able to be formed into patty shapes.
- Take small amounts of the batter and form into patty shapes with your hands. The first few I made were quite thick and turned out a little soggy in the middle, but then I made a thinner round and they turned out much lighter, crispier and cooked quicker (win, win, win!)
- Cook the patties in a little coconut or macadamia nut oil over medium heat for about 4 minutes on each side or until cooked through and lovely and golden (cooking times will always vary depending on your stove, pan and patty thickness).
- Serve warm with eggs to kick start your day, or with avocado salsa (smashed avo, chopped cherry tomatoes, coriander, lemon and chives), smoked salmon and rocket for a wholesome lunch.
* I can tolerate large amounts of sweet corn, thought I know some people with fructose malabsorption have issues with it. The commonly tolerable amount is the equivalent to at least 1/2 cob or 1/4 cup of kernels, and there’s less than that in each serving in this recipe. Always assess your own tolerance levels.
** For a gluten free version, replace the spelt flour with another suitable flour. Buckwheat or brown rice flour should work!