Sunday, December 4, 2011

Zucchini Patties with Feta

Zucchini patties with feta

A simple and tasty Mediterranean vegetarian entrée, side dish or appetizer can be assembled in less than an hour and cooked in 10 minutes.  Who wouldn’t love it?  Even those who are iffy with zucchini will find this flavor combination delectable.  I love to serve it with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt – so creamy and healthy to boot. Tzatziki, sour cream or crème fraiche would also work. You can adjust the size of the pattie and it becomes an entrée or a bite sized appetizer.  So versatile!
Cut off the two ends of 3-4 medium sized green zucchinis. Using a simple box grater, large hole side, coarsely grate the zucchinis. Toss with about 1 tsp of salt and let it rest in a colander in your sink or over a bowl.  Probably the most important part of this recipe is to get all the ingredients as dry as you can so it will quickly fry later (and not boil instead !) Let the grated zucchini stand in colander for at least 15 min – 30 is better.  Press out excess liquid.  I roll it up in a kitchen towel – which, of course, will need to be washed after but it sure gets that last bit of moisture out.
Grated zucchinis
 Place zucchini in a dry bowl, gently mix in 1 large whole egg, 1  large egg yolk, ½ C (or more) of fine bread crumbs or panko, ½ C crumbled feta cheese, 1 C chopped parsley, ½ C finely chopped green onions, and 1½ Tb chopped fresh dill. Other optional additions (which I love to add) are 2-3 minced garlic cloves, 2 -3 Tb chopped sundried tomatoes, and/or toasted pine nuts. If the batter is very wet, add more breadcrumbs or panko.
It is often useful to fry up a small amount at this time to test seasoning. Feta cheese is highly variable on its saltiness and you may need to add additional salt to the mixture before the final frying. (See below for discussion of the various feta cheeses)
Heat 2 Tb olive oil and 2 Tb corn oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, drop the batter by rounded tablespoons into skillet. Hint: Use a small ice cream scoop to get even measured spoonfuls. Fry the patties until golden, about 5 minutes per side, adding more olive oil and corn oil as needed.  Transfer to paper towels.  Keep it in a warm oven until served. Serve with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, Tzatziki, sour crème or crème fraiche.
Frying the patties to a golden brown
 This can be made one day ahead. Once fried, place on a baking sheet, cover and chill. Rewarm uncovered in a 350-degree oven for 12 – 15 minutes.
This would be excellent served with a Sauvignon Blanc or a dry Rose – or best yet, Champagne Rose!!!  But, then, everything goes with Champagne.
Regarding Feta: We have access to a wide variety of feta cheeses. Feta is salted and cured in a brine solution for several months.  When removed from the brine, it dries out rapidly.  The degree of saltiness relates to its preparation as well as source. It was initially made with goat or sheep’s milk. However in the US, much is often produced commercially with pasteurized cow’s milk.  Look carefully at the label and taste the feta so you will know its saltiness.
Greek Feta would be most authentic here.  To be Greek, is must be made from at least 70% sheep’s milk, often with a little goats milk blended in. It is often the saltiest as well as tangy, rich and creamy.  My favorite is French feta which is usually made with sheep’s milk – is less salty, mild and creamy.  My least favorite, American feta, can be made with sheep, goat or even cow’s milk – often tangy but usually less creamy and more crumbly.  (usually promoted as a salad addition)

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