Cooking in my new Cozy, Cluttered Kitchen: Zucchini-Asparagus Fritters with Pesto Yogurt Sauce

To update everyone from my last post, Charles–our beloved kitty–found his way home. YAY!! After a week of prayers and me bushwhacking through dense forest, he wound up at our sliding glass door at 11:30pm one evening, meowing frantically to be let inside. He didn’t leave my side or let me leave his sight for the next three days. Our poor boy definitely did not mean to be gone that long and likely had gotten really confused and turned around. I’m beyond grateful for his safe return and for everyone who helped, whether through helping us search or through prayers.

Charles, with his fancy new AirTag, snuggled up by my side

With Charles home safe and sound, I have finally been able to turn my attention back to normal life–or at least as normal as life is going to get right now. I’m still reeling from the shock of no longer having the job of my dreams and also feeling a growing anxiety of having just moved and spent a bunch of money, seeing how much groceries and gas are costing us alongside moving expenses, and knowing I’m technically without an income. It’s. . . not my favorite feeling.

I’ve been job hunting and have some solid choices–a few, even, that I’m *really* excited about, and so I’m praying for phone calls for interviews soon. In the meantime, I’m pressing forward with the lessons learned from losing Charles–be hopeful and have faith–and focusing on establishing life in our new home.

We have lots of plans for this house, but for now this is what it looks like

Everything about this home is an upgrade from our last house–there’s 2 bathrooms! One inside our bedroom! A Main Suite just for us grown-ups! Be still my heart. There’s room for a spacious and private office, a separate living area from the family room, and bigger–much bigger–bedrooms. The garage, too, is ginormous!

The thing that isn’t an upgrade? The kitchen. Oh my. We think it’s why this house hadn’t sold for 60 days. In this market? Please.

Yup. That’s it. This is before we moved in. We have a fridge now, I assure you.

It’s teeny weeny and there’s no good span of counter space to be had. (And let’s not even discuss the leathered black granite with the gray glass mosaic backsplash that is in no way in keeping with the vibe and aesthetic of the house. . . ugh). We planned to renovate immediately, but with inflation and interest rate hikes, we’ve wisely decided to wait for now. So, what’s a girl to do but be like Tim Gunn and make it work! I’m embracing the idea that it’s a cottage kitchen–cozy and cluttered (ok a very dark, masculine cottage from outer space, but go with me on this).

In what was the formal dining room, I’ve allocated space for my office on one side and the rest of the kitchen on the other.

Ah memories of my days in commercial kitchens.

It may not be beautiful, but it’s working. Last night I was finally able to not only make a homemade meal from scratch but actually enjoy the process, which I think is a huge victory. In fact, I’m feeling so victorious that I’m here blogging (huzzah!) and sharing the recipe! Excited! I’ll be doing a more official New Home Reveal post soon once I unpack the last box (we are so. very. close). For now, I hope you enjoy this dinner as much as we did!

Zuchinni-Asparagus Fritters
Yield: 6 fritters (most of us could only eat one)

1 medium zucchini, shredded with a box grater or very lightly steamed and cut into pieces (if you don’t have a box grater)
1/2 bunch of asparagus, very lightly steamed
1 egg
1 t ground rosemary or 1 T fresh
1/2 t garlic powder
sea salt and fresh pepper to taste, but don’t be stingy
1/2 t calabrian chilies (or more to taste)
1 t nutritional yeast (it adds a savory flavor to vegetarian dishes and is awesome for you)
1 T lemon zest
1/4 C parmesan/romano/or other favorite italian cheese, grated
1/2 to 1 C of AP flour (will vary based on water content of your vegetables and your texture preferences)
Panko bread crumbs
olive oil for pan frying

In a mixing bowl, beat egg with all the seasonings and spices. Add the grated zucchini. Chop the lightly steamed asparagus into smaller pieces and add the asparagus. Add the cheese and flour and work the mixture together with a rubber scraper. Start with less flour at first and work your way up. I wanted mine thick, so I used enough flour to form a thick mixture that could be scooped with an ice cream scoop. With less flour, you’ll have more pancake-like fritters. Both are tasty and really depend on what you’re craving–thick and with a chewy-crunchy texture or thin and crispy. Since this was our main entree, I wanted something thick and patty-like.

Heat a few turns of the pan of olive oil over medium heat in a wide bottom skillet. Pour a panko bread crumbs to coat a dinner plate. Scoop your fritter mixture into the panko and then use your fingers to pick up panko and sprinkle it over the top to coat it evenly. If you made very thick fritters, you’ll be able to turn and rotate them in the panko. If you made thinner fritters (even thinner than mine) this step might be exceedingly messy. You can skip it, honestly, and your fritters will still be very delicious. Mine were just able to hold their shape when scooped but not able to be turned over to coat.

Pan-fry each fritter in the hot oil until golden brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes per side. Drain on a towel and keep warm in an oven until ready to serve. Serve warm with the pesto yogurt sauce. Serve the couscous and salad on the side.

Pesto Yogurt Sauce
Yield: about 1 cup

1 garlic clove
1/2 C fresh basil
1/2 C baby spinach
2 T fresh parsley
sea salt and fresh pepper
3 T red wine vinegar
1/4 C roasted pistachios
2 T parmesan cheese
1/3 C good olive oil
2 T nonfat Greek yogurt

Place everything into a blender and blend until smooth. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Porcini Lemon Couscous
Yield: 4 servings

1 C water
the juice of one lemon
1/4 C white wine vinegar
1 t olive oil
sea salt
1/2 t porcini mushroom powder (I love this ingredient to add meaty umami flavor to vegetarian dishes)
1 C couscous

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, boil the water, lemon juice, white wine veingar, olive oil, sea salt, and porcini mushroom powder together. When mixture is at a boil, remove from the heat and pour in couscous without stirring. Place the lid on the pot and let set for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, fluff the couscous with a fork and serve warm.

Tomato Spinach Salad

Fresh spinach
Fresh sliced tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes)
plenty of sea salt and fresh pepper
good aged balsamic vinegar
good olive oil

In a salad bowl, add the balsamic vinegar (I used an aged balsamic from my local olive oil shop), a good olive oil (mine was actually a gremolata-flavored olive oil from the same store). Add the sliced tomatoes and spinach, then sea salt and fresh pepper. Toss with tongs and serve immediately.

Published by kelinmchull

Wife, mother, teacher, dreamer/doer, adventurer, wannabe farmer, writer, and all around curious gal.

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