Monday, October 7, 2013

Can You Help Me with this Low-Carb Gluten-Free Recipe?

Low-carb gluten-free summer squash balls & fritters
Introducing my Zesty Summer Squash Fritters & Balls!

These flavorful morsels make a great snack, appetizer or side dish, and they're very low carb, gluten-free and relatively high in protein, too. You fry them in just a bit of oil or you can form them into little balls and bake them for an even healthier treat.

Sounds great, right?

This recipe has a problem.

Sure, it tastes delicious, looks pretty decent and is high protein/low carb/gluten-free -- and I'd like it to stay that way.

The problem is, it produces a big soupy mess when you combine the ingredients, making it very hard to form into fritters or balls for frying or baking.

One obvious solution would be to add some flour, bread crumbs or cracker meal, as one normally would when making fritters. But that makes them verboten for anyone who cannot or does not eat wheat or other traditional grain flours, even gluten-free versions.

Another idea I had after making my summer squash fritters was to combine the shredded zucchini and yellow squash with just the barbecue rub and not the other ingredients, let that sit for 30 minutes and then squeeze out & drain off any liquid. This idea is based on the assumption that the rub is extracting the liquid out of the squash, the way salt does with eggplant when you salt it before cooking. But if I use this method with the BBQ seasoning, my concern is that I would drain off much of the flavor that comes from the rub and end up with very bland fritters.

So, dear readers, can you help me improve this recipe without adding flour or other refined carbs?

Here's the current version -- if you have any suggestions or ideas, please share in a comment below:

3 cups shredded zucchini and/or yellow squash (I used 2 small of each)
ingredients for zucchini & summer squash fritters2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper (you can substitute finely chopped red hot pepper, e.g., ripe jalapeno, for some of the sweet pepper)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 Tbs BBQ dry rub (I used Jim's Own Pincho Rub)
Optional: A little oil for frying

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Note: At this point, the mixture began becoming more and more watery or "soupy," and as I formed the fritters and balls I had to squeeze out and drain off quite a lot of liquid, making the mixture harder to work with (see photo below on left -- and that was just the beginning of the problem).

making summer squash fritters
If frying the fritters: Pour just a little bit of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, carefully place the fritters in the pan, leaving enough space between them so that you can turn them over with a spatula. Fry for several minutes until they have set and no longer look wet on top (you can partially cover the skillet to assist in the cooking), then carefully turn the fritters over to fry the other side: They should be at least golden brown on both sides. When done, transfer to paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

If baking the fritters or balls: Preheat oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place fritters or balls on lined sheet, leaving some space between each fritter or ball. Bake at 375°F until golden and cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes.

making zucchini & yellow squash balls
Serve hot with or without a dipping sauce:  Good choices include barbecue sauce, ranch dressing (especially if homemade), steak sauce, or even ketchup.

Now that you've read the recipe, and ideally given it a try yourself, please let me know what you'd add or change to solve the excess-liquid problem.

Thanks in advance, and I look forward to reading your comments and trying your suggestions. Whoever comes up with the "winning fix" for this recipe will get credit for it and special mention in a future blog post!

Zestfully yours,


  1. I just made a recipe similar to this with shredded zucchini and it used some gluten free flour- about 1/3 cup for 2 cups of zucchini; you could probably add at least 1/2 cup to your recipe. It was still a little goopy, but I just scooped up a couple of tablespoons with my hands and dropped them on hot coconut oil. Let them brown nicely and then turn. They held together very well and were still soft in the middle. Trader Joe's has their own brand of gluten free flour that works well.

    1. Thanks Cindy. I've heard the gluten-free flour works for binding the fritters, but I don't want to use it because it's got lots of carbs. That will work for someone who's gluten intolerant, but not for an ultra-low carb diet like Greg's. I haven't checked the Trader Joe's brand of gluten-free flour for its carb count, however, so I'll take a look next time I'm there to see if it might be low enough for him. Thanks for the idea!
      Zestfully yours,