Lilly Higgins: Fritters can turn the most banal vegetables into something magic

Courgettes definitely benefit from the transformative effect of being fried

I have always associated fritters with my mother’s recipe books from the 1970s where entire rings of pineapple would be coated in a thick batter and deep fried. Delicious golden clouds of battered fruit, it was a recipe I remember lingering over before I got to the trifle and steamed pudding.

Then I got my hands on Yotam Ottolenghi’s first book and discovered the joys of vegetable fritters. I was amazed at how sweet potato, halloumi or herbs can be bound together by a little flour and egg. Magic happens once a dollop of the batter is immersed in bubbling hot oil, and it crisps up, becomes crunchy, moreish and very much not like the bland vegetable it started out as. That’s the transformative effect of being fried.

So, of course, courgettes benefit from the same treatment. I always sigh a little when I find courgettes in the fridge. I know I bought them so we’d have more variety, change things up and so on, but now I have to face cooking them and making them appealing to the masses, including my children. I opt to fritter them and serve with some creamy mascarpone.

Mascarpone, funnily enough, is more of a texture than a taste. It is cool, thick and creamy. Perfect for tiramisu, and ideal here for mixing into a dipping sauce. You could use equal quantities of cream cheese here in place of the mascarpone in the dipping sauce and in the fritters themselves.

I love Rebel Chilli’s red sweet chilli sauce for this dish, but use your favourite one. A nice sriracha, or a smoky hot sauce would be great too. One of my friends once expressed his love for hot sauce and he now has every possible chilli and hot sauce available. Every birthday and Christmas results in his collection increasing, bottle by bottle. He knows his jalapeno from his habanero and even dressed as a ghost chilli for Halloween. He is embracing the theme and will chat endlessly about the Scoville scale. It’s not a bad hobby, and he’s great to have over for nachos.

The mint is a welcome fresh pop of flavour here and so good with the chilli. Coriander would also be ideal. I sometimes add a pinch of cumin along with some nigella seeds to the batter. It’s a very versatile recipe. I love to serve these fritters as a light dinner with a big green salad and sliced, room temperature, tomatoes. They’re great served along with baked or small boiled potatoes too.

Recipe: Courgette fritters with chilli mascarpone