I love zucchini fritters but there’s quite an art to making a decent one. If the mix is too wet, they can be soggy or doughy. Too much oil and they can be greasy. Not enough oil and they won’t be crispy (and who doesn’t love crispy?). Somewhere in the whirl of social networking, internet surfing and emails, I stumbled upon a link to a recipe for Baked Zucchini Fritters or Kolokithokeftedes (κολοκυθοκεφτέδες-στο-φούρνο) at ‘Souvlaki for the Soul’. These tasty vegetarian snacks are a mouthful to pronounce. ‘Kolokitho’ means zucchini and ‘kefte’ means patty. Like the original writer, I too was dubious whether the fritter could live up to expectations as they are baked rather than fried. They may be low in fat but would they taste any good? Indeed, they do. Full of herbs and nicely browned, they are fresh and vibrant.
I have adapted the recipe based on Souvlaki’s and another recipe I found. It’s really a simple guide that you can add to and subtract from. The second time I made these I had half a fennel bulb, so I used one less zucchini and finely shredded the bulb into the mix. The original recipe reference herbs found growing wild throughout Greece but you can substitute others that you may have to hand. Extra parsley can be added if you don’t have enough of one of the herbs, a lesser amount of marjoram instead of the oregano, a small amount of tarragon, thyme – there are a wealth of possibilities. Grated haloumi can be substituted for feta. Chopped olives would go well as would lemon zest. If you make a double batch and shape the fritters a little smaller, these would make a great party canape. You might even be able to trick your kids into eating some if you get them to help make them and omit the grown up flavour of dill. These are so quick to prepare, they’ll become a meal time regular and you are almost certain to have all the ingredients to hand. They can be an entrée or vegetable accompaniment. Serve them hot with some Greek style yoghurt or cold at picnic with a squeeze of lemon.
- 3 x medium to large zucchini, grated & squeezed out
- 3 x spring onions, sliced finely
- 2 x garlic cloves, minced finely
- 2 x tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
- 2 x tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
- 2 x tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 x tbsp fresh dill, chopped (or 1/2 tbsp dried dill)
- 1 x large egg
- 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbled
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (see note)
- salt & pepper to season
- oil or cooking spray for baking
- Grate zucchini and place into a colander over the sink. Sprinkle lightly with a small amount of salt, mix and allow to sit for at least half an hour. Whilst you’re waiting for the zucchini juices to drain, start chopping the herbs.
- Combine herbs, spring onions, garlic and feta in a mixing bowl.
- After half an hour, the juices should be running freely. Press the zucchini with the back of a wooden spoon or your hand, against the side of the colander. This allows excess moisture to escape.
- Take small handfuls of zucchini out of the colander and give each handful an extra hard squeeze to force out as much liquid as possible. Add to bowl with herbs and feta.
- Lightly beat egg and add to zucchini herb mix. Mix well.
- Add 1/4 cup of fresh bread crumb and combine. The mix will be fairly wet but not sloppy. You may need more breadcrumbs but do it a tablespoon at a time. You don’t want a dry mix.
- Season. Remember that there is a small amount of salt in the zucchini already and the feta will be salty too. An extra grind of black pepper never goes astray.
- Line a baking tray with baking parchment and pre-heat oven to 200c
- Take small handfuls of the mix and press into rough balls. Place each ball onto the lined tray and press into a flattened patty.
- Brush lightly with oil or cooking spray and place in oven for 10 minutes
- Turn zucchini fritters with a spatula and cook for a further 8 -10 minutes. When you flip the fritters, the bottom of the zucchini fritters (now the top) may be quite brown, depending on the oven and tray used. If so, you may not need to spray them with oil. If they are still pale, you can spray if you wish.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving with yoghurt.
- Remember, excess moisture is the enemy of baked zucchini fritters as it creates steam so don’t rush draining the zucchini or squeezing out the liquid.
- To make fresh breadcrumbs, take a couple of pieces of bread and leave them on the bench for a few hours to dry out so they start to go stale. Then, either blitz in a food processor or, if it’s a small amount, grate into a bowl. The crumbs do not need to be completely dried out and I wouldn’t recommend any time in the oven. It’s unnecessary. I normally have a takeaway container of fresh breadcrumbs in the freezer. As I use them, I just top up along the way with stale bread ends.