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Urban Foodies

Zucchini Fritters with Goat Cheese Mousse



These crispy zucchini fritters are super easy to make and are the perfect way to sneak some tasty veggies into your meal! 

These crispy zucchini fritters are super easy to make and are the perfect way to sneak some tasty veggies into your meal! 

So, how do you feel about veggies?? I have to confess, I’m not a huge fan of vegetables. So when it actually comes to veggies I like, I try to find as many ways as possible to use them.  These Zucchini Fritters are one veggie dish that I just love! Topped with a tangy goat cheese mousse they make a great side dish or a nice light, weeknight meal. And they are a great way to use up your end-of-summer zucchini!

Recipe Ingredients

Several of the ingredients for this recipe are basics you probably have on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:

Fresh zucchini: Fresh from your garden or the local farmer’s market would be the best choice but I make this recipe all year round using zucchini from the grocery store.

Egg: You’ll need one large egg.

Red onion: I prefer red onion for this recipe, however, you can substitute a yellow onion (not a sweet onion).

Lemon zest: Fresh lemon zest is the best option for this recipe though you could used dried lemon peel in a pinch, just reduce the amount by at least half.

Parmigiano-Reggiano: Any type of high-quality parmesan cheese can be used, I just happen to prefer this one.

Goat cheese: You want to use the log style, soft goat cheese for this recipe. Be sure to leave time to let it come to room temperature before mix it with the other ingredients.

Cream cheese: You can use either regular or whipped cream cheese for this recipe.

Sambal: You are only using a small amount in the goat cheese mousse so if you don’t have sambal in your refrigerator you can substitute a different type of hot sauce. If substituting, start with ⅛ teaspoon and add from there.

Fresh cilantro: I don’t recommend substituting dried in this recipe.

Spices: Ground black pepper, sea salt

Pantry staples: Olive oil, all-purpose flour, garlic clove, baking powder

Zucchini Cakes

Making Zucchini Fritters

When I think of zucchini, I usually think of summer. Since it’s on my short list of favorite veggies, I like to use it all year long for these zucchini cakes. This recipe is super easy as it only has a few steps to it.

Shred the zucchini. The first step in this recipe is to grate the zucchini and then drain it. Getting as much water as possible out is an important step to making sure you don’t end up with soggy fitters! Putting the grated zucchini on paper towels and pressing the water out is the most effective way to drain it.

Make the mousse. While you let the zucchini drain for a little longer, mix the mousse ingredients up in a small bowl and then refrigerate until ready to use.

Zuch Cakes

Assemble the mixture. Once the zucchini is fully drained, you’ll mix in the rest of the fritter ingredients.

Pan-fry the fritters. You are using a relatively small amount of oil to fry these which keeps them healthier and cuts down on the mess.

Meal prep tip: You can make the goat cheese mousse a day ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator until ready to use.

These crispy zucchini fritters topped with a goat cheese mousse are a great way to take your side dish to the next level.

Serving Suggestions

These fritters make the perfect side dish for just about any main. You can also eat them on their own for a light lunch or dinner.

If you want to keep it simple, you could just add a piece of grilled fish or chicken for a quick weekday meal. For something a little more sophisticated, I’d serve them with this Lemon Garlic Butter Shrimp or this Grilled Apricot Glazed Pork Tenderloin. For dessert, I’d finish with this Skillet Apple Crisp.

A nice wine pairing with this recipe is a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

More unique side dish reicpes

If you are looking for more ideas for interesting side dish recipes check out these Roasted Carrots with Honey Ricotta or these Smashed Potatoes with Pancetta and Sage Sauce.

things you may want for this recipe

Food Processor with Shredding Blade –  While you can always hand grate your zucchini, it goes much faster with a food processor fitted with a shredding/grating blade.  Most Cuisinart food processors come with one, as do many other models.

Microplane Zester – This is another one of my essential kitchen tools.  I use it for zesting all kinds of citrus and also for grating hard cheeses and occasionally even for grating chocolate!

These crispy zucchini fritters are super easy to make and are the perfect way to sneak some tasty veggies into your meal! 

Zucchini Cakes with Goat Cheese Mousse

These crispy zucchini fritters are super easy to make and are the perfect way to sneak some tasty veggies into your meal!

Prep Time 10 mins

Cook Time 10 mins

Total Time 20 mins


For the zucchini cakes: 

  • 1 pound zucchini
  • ½ teaspoon garlic olive oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoon finely diced red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoon Parmigiano-Reggiano

For the goat cheese mousse: 

  • ¼ cup soft goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoon soft cream cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon sambal
  • 2 tablespoon cilantro leaves, chopped


  • Shred the zucchini. Attach a shredding/grater blade to your food processor and grate the zucchini.  Transfer to a cutting board covered with 2 layers of paper towel; cover with another paper towel and press to remove water.  Let sit for 2-3 minutes and repeat.

  • Make the mousse. While the zucchini is draining, mix all the mousse ingredients in a small bowl.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

  • Create the mixture. Transfer zucchini to a medium bowl and add all remaining ingredients except for olive oil; mix well.

  • Pan fry the fritters. Heat oil in a 12″ non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Use a small scoop to drop batter into skillet. Flatten with a spatula and cook for 2 minutes. Turn cakes and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Remove from pan and keep warm. Repeat with any remaining batter.

  • Place fritters onto serving dishes and top with goat cheese mousse.  Serve immediately.

Keywords : unique side dishes

This post was originally published in December 2014 and updated in September 2021 with some new information. No changes have been made to the original recipe.

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Urban Foodies

Celebrating Our 20th Anniversary at Taco Maria (During Covid) –



Taco Maria in Costa Mesa has always been one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in LA.

Chef Carlos Salgado is originally from Mexico but spent over ten years training in some of the best kitchens in the US, including 2-Michelin starred restaurants like Coi in San Francisco and Commis in Oakland. He opened Taco Maria in 2013.

Prior to achieving a Michelin Star, Chef Salgado was a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef West consecutively for the past four years, and was named Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2015.

Dining During Covid

Notoriously challenging to book, this Michelin-starred restaurant got even harder to book during Covid. They removed all indoor dining and limited seating to parties of four. They also opened up bookings only 1-2 weeks in advance, so Bryan diligently logged onto their website (at midnight in Hong Kong!) to grab seats for us during popular, coveted weekend slots.

Taco Maria – The Food

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Urban Foodies

Visiting Family in Los Angeles During Covid



Returning to the US

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Urban Foodies

A Weeknight Meal for Two



This Deconstructed Skillet Lasagna gives you that great lasagna taste without all the fuss of traditional lasagne, making it an easy weeknight meal for two!  

Skillet filled with lasagne with bread, wine and cheese on the side

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There is nothing like a good hearty pasta dish on a chilly winter night! This creamy, deconstructed lasagna takes all the components of traditional lasagna and incorporates them into an easy-to-make version. No need to spend time layering anymore. 

This skillet version might just change the way you make lasagne forever!

Deconstructed Skillet Lasagna shot from overhead on a teal blue napkin

Recipe Highlights

  • Cheese sauce! Do I really need to say more?!
  • Designed for two. Since it’s made in small skillets, this lasagna is the ideal two serving meal.
  • Easier than traditional lasagna. Traditional lasagna can be time consuing to make. By deconstructing it a bit, this recipe is ready in just about 30 minutes, making it a weeknight staple.
  • Make-ahead option. You can make everything ahead of time and refrigerate until you ar ready to cook. Then just pop the skillet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Packed with flavor. Cheese sauce, red wine, tomatoes and ground beef combine to give this dish loads of flavor.

Key ingredients

The full list of ingredients and quantities can be found in the recipe card below.

Ingredients - corkscrew pasta, tomatoes, onion, red wine, cheese, herbs and garlic

The key ingredients include…

  • Cellentani pasta: This corkscrew style pasta works well with both the meat and the cheese sauce. Cavatappi also works for this recipe.
  • Ground sirloin: I typically use at least 90% lean ground beef.
  • Beef broth: Purchased beef broth works fine for this recipe.
  • Red wine: I recommend a fruitier red wine, but your favorite varietal or whatever you happen to have open will work.
  • Diced tomatoes: Ideally, you’ll use petit diced tomaotes for the best consistency in the sauce but sometimes they seem to be hard to fine so standard diced tomatoes also work.
  • Italian blend cheese: I normally prefer to grate cheese instead of purchasing pre-bagged, grated cheese, however since you want an Italian blend it’s easiest to purchase a bag.
  • Pamesan or Asiago cheese: Freshly grated is the best option here.
  • Spices: dried basil, dried oregano, dried thyme, sea salt, ground pepper
  • Pantry staples: Garlic cloves, milk, butter, all-purpose flour

How to make this recipe

Since it’s ready in just about 30 minutes, this lasagna is ideal for any night of the week.

Cook the pasta. I always recommend following the package directions, since cooking times for pasta vary based on brand. You want to cook to al dente.

Make the meat sauce. You’ll start by browning the ground beef, then adding in the beef broth, wine and tomatoes.

Make the cheese sauce. Starting with a traditional roux (butter + flour) gives you a nice, thick cheese sauce that eventually combines with the meat sauce to give you cheesy goodness in every bite.

Assemble the lasagne. You’ll divide the pasta between the two skillets, then top with the meat sauce, and then pour the cheese sauce over the top. Next, you’ll bake the lasagna for about 15 minutes and dinner is ready!

You can cook the pasta, make both the meat and cheese sauces and assemble the lasagna ahead of time. If you will be refrigerating for more than a few hours, I don’t recommend using cast-iron skillets. Stainless steel skillets or small ceramic baking dishes will be a better choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I don’t have mini skillets?

If you don’t have mini skillets you can either use another small baking dish, or you can make this in a larger skillet though you will need to increase the cooking time by about 5 minutes.

How should I store leftovers?

If you used cast iron skillets, I recommend removing any leftovers from the skillets and storing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Close up of Deconstructed Skillet Lasagna with a glass of red wine

Tools you’ll want for this recipe

Small cast iron skillets – Cast iron skillets are great for cooking so many things. Something about 6″ in diameter is ideal. I like to keep two of the smaller version in my kitchen for smaller servings. You can also use a small stainless steel pan.

Serving Suggestions

To keep it simple, I like to pair pasta with a nice green salad. My quick and easy salad is greens topped with some shaved asiago, toasted pine nuts, a squeeze of lemon juice, some olive oil, and a bit of balsamic glaze.  

And of course, you can’t go wrong by adding some homemade garlic bread to soak up any extra sauce! Add a nice glass of red wine, perhaps the merlot you used in the sauce, and you have the perfect meal!

More pasta recipes

If you are looking for other easy pasta dishes check out these reader favorites:

  • Creamy Lemon Pasta. While this recipe is easy enough for a weeknight meal, the bright lemon flavor and parmesan breadcrumbs give it a touch of elegance.
  • Roasted Tomato Summer Spaghetti. This is pasta is perfect for an easy, everyday meal. Tomatoes, mozarealla, pesto and pasta combine for vegetarian dish that’s ready in just under 30 minutes.

Skillet filled with lasagne with bread, wine and cheese on the side

Deconstructed Skillet Lasagna Recipe

This Deconstructed Skillet Lasagna gives you that great lasagne taste without all the fuss of a traditional lasagne, making it an easy weeknight meal for two! 

Prep Time 15 mins

Cook Time 15 mins

Total Time 30 mins

Course Pasta & Grains

Cuisine Italian


For the meat sauce:

  • 1 cup Cellentani pasta, uncooked
  • pound ground sirloin
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 ounces beef broth
  • 4 ounces Merlot, or other fruity red wine
  • 1 15- ounce can petite diced tomatoes

For the cheese sauce: 

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup non-fat or 1% milk
  • 1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Grated asiago or parmesan for topping


  • Heat the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat two small cast iron skillets with olive oil. 

  • Cook the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente pasta. Drain when pasta is done cooking.

  • Brown the ground beef. While the pasta is cooking heat a large skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the ground sirloin and onions; cook for 4-5 minutes until the ground sirloin is browned. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the basil through pepper and cook for an additional minute until fragrant.

  • Make the meat sauce. Add the beef broth, wine and tomatoes; continue to cook until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce heat and simmer while you make the cheese sauce.

  • Make the roux. melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until a thick paste forms.

  • Make the cheese sauce. Slowly add the milk, a small amount at a time, stirring with a whisk after each addition until the sauce is smooth. Once all of the milk has been added cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly, until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese; continue stirring until the sauce is smooth (sauce will be quite thick). Add the pepper and nutmeg; stir to combine.

  • Assemble and bake. Add half of the pasta to each of the prepared skillets. Top each skillet with half the meat sauce mixture then half of the cheese sauce. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese sauce begins to bubble around the edge of the skillet. Top with grated cheese and serve


  • If you are saving one or both of the skillets for another time, wait to put the dish in the skillet until you are ready to bake. You can refrigerate in an airtight container and then transfer to the cast iron skillet. Alternatively use a non-cast iron mini skillet or baking dish. 
  • When ready to eat, cook as directed, however, you will need to increase the cooking time by 5-10 minutes to ensure everything gets hot!

Keywords : cast iron cooking, pasta for two

This post was originally published in January 2016. It was updated in January 2022 with some new photos and information. No changes were made to the original recipe.

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