It was an easy, yet impressive choice to make. Kolokithokeftedes are fried patties of mashed courgettes or zucchini (kolokithia), other vegetables depending on preference, flour and egg to stick the mix together. The keftedes, or “fried balls” as we try not to say in Crete, are made with a variety of ingredients, are usually utterly delicious, and take only about 20 minutes from start to finish. They are served as a meze, and are best eaten hot. Bite through a slightly crisp, brown outer coat and discover the meltingly soft, light yet sticky, interior. You love them. We love them too, so here is the recipe, courtesy of Dimitris Kayabis, a favourite host in Heraklion.
This recipe serves who knows how many. It depends what else you put on the table. But it’s going to give you about twelve keftedes that are about the size of a decent burger, or bifteki.
5 Courgettes, reasonably large.
1 big tomato
1 medium onion
1 potato, again medium sized
1 large carrot
1 teacup breadcrumbs, finely ground
1 teacup flour
1 egg (getting tired of these 1’s yet?)
A generous chunk of feta cheese
Parsley, fresh and chopped, salt and pepper. Don’t forget that the feta is salty too.
Paprika is a good addition if you like a little spice
Wash and peel the vegetables, leave skin on the tomato, as it will be grated.
Grate the courgettes, tomato, onion and carrot into a colander that is standing inside a large mixing bowl. This allows excess water to drain away. Crumble the feta cheese into the mix.
Begin to work the ingredients together by hand, carefully, not to lose any over the sides of the collander. Once done, lift out the colander, empty the bowl of liquid and transfer the contents of colander to bowl. Now break the egg into the bowl and add the feta, chopped herbs and salt and pepper. Easy on the salt, the feta is quite salty. Continue to massage the mix between fingers after adding breadcrumbs and, more slowly, flour. Turmeric will be added at this point.
I love this part, as rough shavings of vegetable matter turn soft beneath and between fingers. The small chunks of feta, flour and breadcrumbs will begin to melt and blend into the liquid, creating a smooth texture. Add a little flour if necessary, but by now you should have a smooth, but not runny, consistency.
After this, the mix is helped by being allowed to stand in the fridge for an hour, before frying in olive oil. After standing, the mix will ‘leak’ water, so add a bit more flower to return to correct consistency. Scoop out patties with a spoon, and make patties on a floured surface. The level of olive oil in the frying pan should cover half the pattie. Fry in olive oil that is bubbling but not too fiercely, as for fried potatoes. Turn the keftedes once, browning both sides. Finish by placing the kolokithokeftedes on absorbent paper for a minute, then serve with a little yoghurt on the side and maybe a sprig of parsley.
Louis and Yannis
NOTE: This recipe has been offered by Dimitris Kayabis, owner of a cafe-ouzerie taverna in Heraklion.
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