Zucchini Red Lentil and Spinach Fritters with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

4.67 from 3 votes
13 hours 15 minutes
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Zucchini, Red Lentil and Spinach Fritters are flour-free, egg-free and the perfect way to use a summer bounty of zucchini.  These spicy and flavorful Indian-inspired fritters turn out super-crispy and the lemony Cilantro Yogurt Sauce is the perfect accompaniment!  Best of all, they freeze and reheat beautifully!

Photo of Zucchini Red Lentil and Spinach Fritters with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce in white pan.

The inspiration behind this recipe:

Zucchini fritters or cakes are one of my favorite things to make when our zucchini harvest goes into full swing.  I’m also a lentil lover so when I saw this Zucchini-Lentil Fritter recipe in the August 2020 edition of Bon Appetit magazine, it immediately went on my must-make list.  (It has been on their website since last year but finally made it into their magazine.  Hmmmm…)

As is usually the case, I seldom follow a recipe to the letter.  My version has spinach instead of parsley for a little more nutrition, kicked up spices and yogurt sauce for a super flavorful version that makes a great flour-free (totally gluten-free) and egg-free appetizer, snack or vegetarian dinner!

Close-up photo of Zucchini Red Lentil and Spinach Fritters with fresh greens and lemon wedges.

How to make Zucchini, Red Lentil and Spinach Fritters:

  • PLAN AHEAD:  You’ll need to plan ahead a little bit as the lentils need to be soaked for 6-8 hours or overnight.
  • MAKE AHEAD:  Combine the ingredients for the Cilantro Yogurt Sauce in a food processor or blender.  Process until smooth and refrigerate until needed.

Photo of cilantro yogurt sauce in food processor.

  • It’s always a good idea to look lentils over for any debris such as tiny stones, twigs or any that are dry and shriveled as those can be stone-like.  This extra step can save you a trip to the dentist.  Here’s what I do:
    • Place a small amount–about 1/4 cup–on a plain white paper plate.  A white surface makes debris easier to find.
    • Look them over for anything odd and discard it.
    • Then, gently fold the plate to guide them into your pot or into a bowl.
    • Repeat with the remaining lentils.
  • Give the red lentils (also called masoor dal) a good rinse in a sieve, then place in a bowl and cover with water.  Soak for 6-12 hours or overnight.  (Red lentils can be found in any grocery store or your local Indian market.)

Photo of red lentils being soaked in glass bowl and being stirred with white spoon.

  • Prep the zucchini.  You’ll need four medium zucchini or approximately 2 pounds.

Photo of four zucchini in white distressed colander.

  • Shred the zucchini with a box grater, using the side with the largest holes and place in a colander along with the scallions.  Give it a good salting and let it drain for an hour or so in the sink.

Photo of shredded zucchini in white distressed colander.

  • Drain the lentils and place in a food processor.  Add the spices and process until you have a thick puree.

Photo of red lentils being pureed in food processor.

  • Squeeze as much water from the zucchini and scallions as you can and place in a mixing bowl.
  • Give the spinach a quick saute in the pan you’ll be using to cook the fritters then tilt the pan and drain off any excess liquid.  To skip the saute, you can use frozen spinach that you’ve thawed and squeezed of any excess moisture.
  • Combine all the fritter ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Photo of zucchini, red lentils and spinach in glass bowl.

  • Using a 1/3-cup measuring cup, pack the mixture into the measuring cup to form even-sized patties.  Invert onto a baking sheet or another flat surface such as a cutting board then gently press them down to flatten.  A 1/4-cup measuring cup will also work for smaller fritters.

Photo of Zucchini, Red Lentil and Spinach Fritters on black baking sheet being being fried.

  • Heat a good cup of oil or so in a large nonstick skillet or saute pan and cook until nicely browned on both sides.  Drain on a rack set inside a baking sheet.  You never want to place something fried on paper towels as the bottom will become soggy sitting in the oil that was soaked up by the paper towels.

Photo of fried zucchini fritters on rack over baking sheet.

That’s it!  They’re ready to enjoy!

Garnish with a few fresh baby greens or herb sprigs.

Photo of Zucchini Red Lentil and Spinach Fritters with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce in white pan with sauce and garnished with greens and lemon wedges.

Serve the Zucchini, Red Lentil and Spinach Fritters with the Cilantro Yogurt Sauce!

Photo of Zucchini Red Lentil and Spinach Fritters with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce with sauce being drizzled over fritters.

Delish!

Photo of a stack of four Zucchini Red Lentil and Spinach Fritters with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce on white plate with sauce dripping down onto the plate.

Tips for freezing and reheating zucchini fritters:

  • Thoroughly cool the fritters in the refrigerator.
  • Place on a parchment or wax paper-lined baking sheet (something nonstick) and place in the freezer for two hours to thoroughly freeze.
  • Remove from the freezer and place in a freezer zipper-top bag.  This will enable you to remove one, two, or however many you need when you need them.
  • OR, simply place in a freezer-friendly container with parchment or wax paper between the layers.
  • Zucchini fritters can be reheated from frozen at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes.

More zucchini fritter recipes you’ll love:

More zucchini recipes:

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Zucchini Red Lentil Fritters with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce - Overhead shot in white pan with sauce garnished with greens and lemons

Zucchini Red Lentil and Spinach Fritters with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

4.67 from 3 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef's Kitchen
Zucchini, Red Lentil and Spinach Fritters are flour-free, egg-free and the perfect way to use a summer bounty of zucchini.  These spicy and flavorful Indian-inspired fritters turn out super-crispy and the lemony Cilantro Yogurt Sauce is the perfect accompaniment!  Best of all, they freeze and reheat beautifully!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 12 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 13 hours 15 minutes
Course Vegetarian / Vegan Entrees
Cuisine Indian
Servings 14 Fritters
Calories 301 kcal

Ingredients
  

Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt - whole, 2% or fat-free
  • 1 bunch cilantro - with tender stems, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic - finely chopped
  • 1 large lemon - juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt - to taste

Fritters

  • 1 cup red lentils - masoor dal
  • 4 medium zucchini - approximately 2 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon salt - plus more as needed to taste
  • 1 bunch scallions - white and light green part only, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil - plus 1 cup for frying fritters
  • 1 container (5-ounce) baby spinach - --OR-- 1 package (10-ounce) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess moisture
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder - preferably Madras
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper - or to tolerance
  • Freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • Fresh baby greens for serving - optional

Instructions
 

Yogurt Sauce

  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Season to taste with salt. Refrigerate until needed.

Fritters

  • Rinse lentils then place in a bowl. Cover with water to at least 1-inch above the lentils. Let soak at room temperature for 6-12 hours or overnight.
  • Meanwhile, trim the ends from the zucchini and shred with a box grater, using the side with the largest holes. Transfer to a colander, add the chopped scallion add 1 tablespoon salt and toss together. Let drain for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a nonstick skillet or saute pan. If using fresh spinach, place it in the pan and cook 2-3 minutes or until wilted. Drain off any excess liquid.
  • Squeeze as much liquid as possible from the zucchini and scallions and transfer to a large bowl. Add the cooked spinach or thawed spinach and garlic.
  • Drain the lentils and transfer to a food processor. Add the coriander, cumin, curry powder and cayenne. Pulse until a puree forms. Transfer to the bowl with the zucchini and spinach and mix well. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary.
  • Place a cooling rack over a large sheet pan. Using a 1/3-cup measuring cup, form into 14 even portions and flatten to form fritters.
  • Heat 1 cup oil in a large nonstick skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Carefully place the 3-4 fritters at a time in the hot oil. Reduce heat to medium and cook 2 minutes or until golden brown on the first side. Carefully flip the fritters away from you and cook another 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to the cooling rack set over the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining fritters.
  • Transfer fritters to a platter and serve with yogurt sauce.

Notes

FREEZER-FRIENDLY:  Freeze in an airtight container for 2-3 months.
REHEATING:  Reheat in a 350-degree oven until heated through.  No need to thaw if frozen.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 301kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 513mg | Potassium: 331mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 215IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 1mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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