Apr 8, 2009

Shrimp & Squash Fritters

I'm forcing myself to post today. It's like a zen exercise. I'm doing it to keep my brain busy, and to force out all the accumulated suffering I've been absorbing from the earthquake drama since Monday at dawn. The relief machine is picking up momentum, the shakes continue (always stronger at night, I can't make out why) and I go on, counting my blessings and thankful for being here, all in one piece. I crave sleep, but I must be vigil. Needless to say I can't wait for that mini vacation.

The only way I'm able to wind down in the meantime is by cooking. Weird.
And since I've been feeding on comfort broth for the past two days, today I felt like making something totally unwholesome, unPC and deep-fried. I'm sure your livers will all forgive me for that. I suggest you also link over at Shannon's blog for more delightful What's Cooking Wednesday recipes.
Ready for sinful? Read on. And hopefully you'll replete like I have with my debauched Shrimp & Squash Fritters.

This 30-minute wonder is perfect antipasto fare. Put a batch of it on a platter along with morsels of ribbony mozzarella in carrozza, some crisp fried zucchini blossoms, a handful of French fries or fried artichoke hearts, and you've got yourself a lovely Frittura Mista; Italian for 'assorted deep-fried goodies.'

  • 200 gr (1 cup) medium shrimp tails (shelled and de-veined)
  • 2 yellow squash or regular zucchini (I like to use the round Tondo di Piacenza varietal, native to northern Italy), julienned into matchsticks
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 1 tbsp unbleached flour
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch (aka cornflour or Maizena)
  • 100 gr (1/2 cup) mesculun salad
  • 100 gr (1/2 cup) dandelion greens (save the flowers too, they're edible)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic or apple cider vinegar
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Tondo di Piacenza
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Sauté the squash (or the zucchini) in a medium-sized frying pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 clove of garlic. Do this for roughly 2-3 minutes, and then set aside.

In another skillet, sauté the shrimp tails in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the other half clove of garlic. Do this for no more than one minute; fish the shrimp tails out and rest them on a paper towel. Then coarsely chop and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, mix 1 egg into the flour and cornstarch. Beat in the other eggs one at a time, add the chopped shrimp tails, the prepared squash (or zucchini), adjust seasoning and mix well to blend. Refrigerate for 20 minutes while you uncork the ice-cold vino.

Heat about 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large frying pan, when it is piping hot, drop in 2 or 3 tablespoon-sized dollops of the blend at a time, and fry in small batches for 2-3 minutes on each side. Park the fritters briefly on a paper towel to absorb grease, while you plate the salad bed.

Scatter the mesculun and the rest of the greens on a wide platter, dress with a thread of olive oil and your vinegar of choice. Toss and garnish with the fritters and a handful of edible blossoms, like for example dandelions, violets and cowslips. Voilà, frittura.

Many of you kindly offered solidarity to those dramatically affected by Sunday’s earthquake in Abruzzo. In the hours immediately after the first shock, I was unable to provide that information. If you are still interested in contributing, however, here are a few useful places to visit:

National Italian American Foundation: Abruzzo Relief Fund
Red Cross: Donation page
Global Giving Relief and Recovery Fund

Thank you for your touching words of comfort and concern in the past few days. I have treasured them immensely. Much more than you imagine.


  1. Hi, I just found your blog. Being a recent transplant to Florida which had to return to Germany for a surgery I can relate so much. This earth quake makes us once again so grateful for being in one piece. I have heard - while watching all news and documentaries on it - that a small village is destryed completely with no one surviving, while other village didnt experience any damyage at all. However my archtitects getting blamed for building with inferior materials. It is devastating in my eyes. They live in one of the most dangerous areas in Italy and use inferior materials, - but then it is hard to understand why the house owner agrees to it. Hard to understand why the Italian government refuses international help. Is nt that what we are here for - to help each other? Paula

  2. Hi love, thinking of you.
    The recipe looks so yummy and something that the kids would really enjoy as well.Grazie.xx♥

  3. Hi Lola, I hope you are safe in your home in Rome,
    the aftershocks must be harrowing.
    thinking of you today.

  4. Paula - Thanks for stopping by and leaving your heartfelt comment. Don't get me started on the Italian gov't...

    Natalie - Ciao dear, I hope your kids enjoy these, my little one loves seafood too. The wee gourmands that they are!

    Delwyn - Harrowing is the right word. Last night we felt a pretty strong one again. We're safe here, but my nerves are barely holding up. I need that vacation.

  5. I also find cooking to be a relief when stress is huge.

    My heart continues to go out to all of you in Italy - thanks for posting the relief organizations - our wallets can join our hearts.

    On a more trivial note, the recipe looks lovely.

    I hope that you can find some peace soon.

    I can't participate in What's Cooking Wednesday today because I haven't had enough time to cook! Bah! I'll be joining next week.

  6. Oh, Lola, the aftershocks are really upsetting, I can see. Everyone living on pins and needles and gratitude for days on end. Like it can never really be completely over.
    Are the kids hearing this all and feeling scared? Cooking and good smells and the togetherness of meals probably really help the kids.
    Take care ~

  7. Beh, periodo molto particolare, molto intenso e triste. Mi dispiace tanto per quella povera gente. Hope all is well with these aftershocks.


  8. Ciao Lola, Your right cooking has a way of being very therapeutic! Cooking puts me in a place where I am calmer and happier. I could taste these now, I like the blend and dandelion green!! I also enjoy the round zucchini's. I picked up the seeds from your land! They grow well.I am the only one around here with round ones. Great for stuffing!!
    You Take Care !

  9. Lola, dearest Lola - I've been thinking about you ever since I heard about the earthquake, but have been unable to log on to my blog account in order to get over to yours to express my deepest sympathy for you and for your fellow Italians. I have visited L'Aquila and have explored the wonderful Abruzzo region – now the old city is gone and many of the surrounding towns and villages are left devastated. My heart reaches out to all those who have been affected by this tragedy, particularly those who have lost their loved ones and their homes. Pray that there will not be the same outcome as the aftermath of the Eboli earthquake where people are still living in ‘temporary’ accommodation some 20 years on.

    I know it may seem trite, but I have a small painting I did while we were travelling through Abruzzo in 2007 which I wondered if you might like. I feel it may remind you of a pre-earthquake region bathed in the gentle warmth of the early summer and that, after the terrible shock of this disaster, it may bring you some little comfort? My email is makula.mafuta@btinternet if you would like to give me an address to which I could send it.

    Thank you for your comforting recipes which conjure up the aroma of love and togetherness for all of us.

    Thank you also for the links to the sites where we can help the people of Abruzzo rebuild their lives.

  10. Oooo, dandelions. That reminds me of my Nonna. She always was out in the yard in Spring digging up the greens. These days people spray them with weed killer, but Nonna had higher plans.

    Reading all the comments I see how many folks are thinking of you, sending love and goodwill. Relax into their grace. Picture yourself, E, your family in a safe place. Let the anxiety pass through you.

    Be well. Keep cooking. Because we all love it as much as you.

  11. Fried italian food is like medicine. haha

  12. Wow and yum! Your little round squash look a lot like our baby gem squash which, I suspect, would work just as well. What a wonderfully "happy" dish this is, I'll have to give a go! Thanks for sharing! x

  13. Lola I am sending my love and prayers to you and your fellow countrymen.

    Be safe sweet girl.

    Love Renee xoox

  14. Lola, I hope those poor people are being assisted. We had earthquakes in California that did a great deal of damage; but the damage to the soul is even bigger; for months people are reminded of their fears each time there is a tremor. We are all sending our best wishes that help gets to them; that people can still be found alive.

    I see from all the international friends out there that the whole world is praying. Love and peace to you.

  15. Lola, I wish I could fly right over and give you a hug. I hope you are as surrounded by friends there, in the flesh, as you are here in blogland. Thank you for posting the relief agencies, as I was just wondering how we could help the effort in Abruzzo

    Do whatever you need to to take care of yourself and your family. Thank you for keeping us updated. I think about you every day.

    Love, sallymandy

  16. Glad you are safe, what a terrible tragedy. I've seen it on television and just can't believe it. I came from Shannon's blog (and am a Shannon, too) and I am SO going to try this recipe!!!

  17. It's hard enough to deal with tragedy but when the darned earth won't stop shaking...I hope it's all over soon. My best to you and yours. How's your belly after those delicious treats?

  18. I too find coking very therapeutic. I'm glad you found a moment to post this very pretty recipe. Be well and thank you for participating.

  19. Oh God, these comments are so wonderful... grazie

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