Zucchini and Chickpea Fritters with Smoked Salmon

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I got back to my hotel room at midnight and put my things down on the bed. The whole weekend I had been focused on my work, photographing the World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards, and after nine hours, I was exhausted. The first thing I did was open my computer and scrolled through Facebook. I had planned on it being a way to decompress before bed. And then I came across a link to a video of Anderson Cooper reading the names of the victims. Seeing him, hearing his voice, quivering, failing to hold back tears, brought up all the emotions that I had kept tucked away over the last 24 hours. I began to cry with him. The times I've cried like that are few, but I remember each one well. The death of Matthew Shepard. Columbine. 9/11. Sandy Hook. 

There are so many other emotions that I feel and others have articulated them so much better than I ever could, but I wanted to put this moment down here, in this space, because these feelings are something I never want to forget. I don't mean that in a hashtag way. I mean that in a "Let's put this in our hearts and make sure we change because of it" way. I hope it gets more people to talk about some major problems we have as a nation. Our disgustingly lenient gun laws. Our hatred/fear of anyone that's different. Maybe... maybe... we can learn from what happened and grow. 

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I wish such a terrible thing didn't have to take up this space, because I do want to talk about a fabulous new cookbook: Pure Delicious by Heather Christo. I love this book for so many reasons, but, mainly, because of its approach to allergy-free recipes. None of the recipes are titled "Non-dairy" or "Vegan" or "Nut-free." They just are. Now, I don't have any food allergies (something I'm continuously grateful for) but my sister and a number of my friends have serious allergies. I have memories of my sister going into anaphylactic shock after consuming a peanut that had made its way on top of an ice cream sundae. So, whenever I'm cooking for others, I make sure to find out if they have any allergies. This book is the perfect reference for those who have dietary restrictions or who have friends and family members that do because all of her recipes are without gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, or shellfish.

These zucchini and chickpea pancakes/fritters were the first recipe I came across. I loved how simple they were to prepare and thought I could use them as a base and then just create my own unique toppings (Heather made a fantastic looking red onion marmalade). I love how rustic vegetable pancakes can be, but that they can be dressed up to make them a bit fancy. Here I use my favorite non-dairy topping, a creamy coconut milk and Dijon mustard sauce, some smoked salmon, and chive. They can be served as a pre-meal appetizer or even for brunch!

GIVEAWAY INFO!!! Heather and the publisher of Pure Delicious are generously providing a copy of her book to giveaway to one lucky reader! Just leave a comment on this post to enter (one (1) entry per person). It's only open to U.S. residents (sorry to my Canadian and international readers). Giveaway closes at 12PM EST on Friday, June 24th. The winner will be contacted via e-mail. 

Zucchini Chickpea Fritters with Smoked Salmon

Servings
Serves 10, as an appetizer

Special Equipment
Food processor

Ingredients
For the Zucchini Chickpea Fritters
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
3 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Vegetable oil, for frying

For the creamy mustard sauce
1, 13.5 oz. can full-fat coconut milk, chilled in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (to separate the cream from the milk)
1 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Smoked Salmon
Chopped fresh chive, for garnish

Directions
1. To make the zucchini chickpea fritters: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Add the shredded zucchini to a colander and, using a clean dish towel, press as much of the water out as you can. 

3. Add the chickpeas to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they turn into a thick paste. Transfer the beans to a large bowl and add the onion and zucchini. Use clean hands to mix well, then form the mixture into 10 cakes. Set aside.

4. On a plate, combine the garbanzo bean flour and the salt. Gently dredge each cake in the flour, patting it onto all sides of the cake. 

5. In a heavy pan or skillet, over medium-high heat add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add 3 or 4 cakes at a time and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until the cakes are golden. Transfer the cakes to a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until hot and a deeper golden color.

6. While the fritters are baking, whisk together the coconut cream (the fat in the coconut milk), Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and salt until combined.

7. Serve fritters warm, with the smoked salmon, creamy mustard sauce and fresh chive on top.

Zucchini and Chickpea Fritter recipe - Reprinted from Pure Delicious by arrangement with Pam Krauss Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2016, Heather Christo LLC