Friday

Dining with the Doc: Greek Zucchini Fritters



These delightful fritters are a great way to use fresh zucchini and spring herbs, which are both abundant at the market this time of year.  The humble zucchini is really the star of this dish and is accented by the bright, fresh flavor of herbs like dill, parsley and mint.  Zucchini is plentiful in the spring and summer, inexpensive, and nutritious.  It is comprised mostly of water so it’s very low in calories- one medium zucchini has only 31 calories.  Zucchini has several important vitamins and minerals, most of which are in the skin so be sure to keep the skin on when you eat it.  It’s rich in Vitamin A, B-complex Vitamins, Vitamin C and Vitamin K.  It’s also a very good source of dietary fiber and important minerals like potassium and manganese.  When purchasing zucchini, choose ones that are firm and heavy with a bright, glossy skin.

I remember having delicious zucchini fritters years ago when my husband and I honeymooned on the Greek island of Santorini.  Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside with a salty bite from feta cheese, these tasty morsels were served with Tzatziki on the side, a Greek yogurt sauce made with cucumber, garlic and lemon.  The traditional dish, which is called Kolokithokeftedes, is usually deep-fried.  I wanted to make my version a little healthier so I made a few changes to put my own spin on the dish. 

Clockwise from top right: scallions, dill, mint and parsley

To cut out a good amount of fat, I fry my fritters in a cast iron pan with just a small amount of heart healthy olive oil.  If you use a cast iron or nonstick pan, you can use just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan and prevent the fritters from sticking.  If you want to cut even more fat, you can bake the fritters on a sheet pan with cooking spray but it won’t give you quite the same golden crust. 

To cut some more calories and saturated fat, I use reduced fat feta cheese, which is readily available at my supermarket.  It has one third less fat than traditional feta but still has a nice flavor and texture that works well in these fritters.  To bind the fritters, I use one egg plus an egg white.  And to add some whole grains to the dish, I stir in white whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour and a small amount of whole wheat breadcrumbs.  You don’t want to use too much filler- the zucchini is really the star here and you want to let it shine.  It’s really important to squeeze out as much water from the zucchini as possible before making the batter otherwise you will have to add more flour and breadcrumbs and your fritters will be become heavy and dense.  To ensure a light and fluffy texture, I also stir in a small amount of baking powder.    

Serve these delicious fritters hot from the skillet with a dollop of cool Tzatziki (see recipe below).  They make a lovely appetizer or even a light dinner served with a fresh Greek salad.


Greek Zucchini Fritters
Makes 16 fritters or 8 servings


2 lbs. zucchini (about 4 medium)
Kosher salt
4 scallions, sliced (about ¾ cup)
2 tablespoons fresh, chopped dill
2 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley
1 ½ tablespoons fresh, chopped mint
1 large egg
1 egg white
2/3 cup crumbled reduced fat feta cheese
½ cup white whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
Black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Lemon wedges for serving


Tzatziki:
½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/3 cup finely chopped or grated cucumber
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh, chopped dill



To make the Tzatziki, mix the yogurt, cucumber, garlic, lemon juice and dill together in a bowl.  Refrigerate until ready to use. 

To make the fritters, grate the zucchini (with skin on) on a box grater.  Grate the zucchini at an angle to get long strands. 


Place the grated zucchini in a colander lined with cheesecloth.  If you don’t have cheesecloth, you can place the zucchin directly in the colander.  Sprinkle 2 teaspoons salt on the zucchini and toss to combine.


Let the zucchini rest for 20 minutes, then gather up the ends of the cheesecloth and wring all of the liquid out.  If you’re not using cheesecloth, you can squeeze the water out of the zucchini with your hands in batches.  It is important to squeeze out as much water as possible so that the fritters aren’t soggy- you’ll be amazed at how much water comes out!  


Place the zucchini in a large mixing bowl and add the scallions, dill, parsley, mint, egg and egg white.  Mix with a fork to combine.


Add the cheese, flour, baking powder, breadcrumbs, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and the red pepper flakes.  Mix with a fork to combine all ingredients well.  


Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large cast iron skillet or nonstick frying pan over medium heat.  Place 8 dollops (about 2 tablespoons each) of the zucchini mixture into the pan and flatten them slightly with a spatula.  The more you flatten them, the crispier the fritters will be.


Cook 3-4 minutes until a golden brown crust forms, then flip them over.  Cook another 2-3 minutes until browned underneath again.


Remove the fritters from the pan.  Pour the remaining tablespoon oil into the skillet and repeat the process with the remaining batter.

Serve fritters hot and garnish with fresh herbs and lemon wedges.  Serve with Tzatziki or plain Greek yogurt.       


One serving (2 fritters plus 1 tablespoon Tzatziki): Calories 128; Fat 5.7g (Sat 1.6g); Protein 7.7g; Carb 12.6g; Fiber 2.5g




18 comments:

  1. Yummy and different way to eat zuchini, especially now that it will be the season for zuchini and squash. I guess that you could do the same with yellow squash.Love Tzatziki sauce.

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    1. Yes, you can definitely make this recipe with yellow squash. Enjoy!

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  2. What a lovely version of a classic Greek dish. I love this. Will be making a batch soon for sure! Dill is especially lovely with zucchini... Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Great, let me know how it goes! I love using dill- it adds such fresh flavor to dishes. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. was a big success with my ladies luncheon today.They agreed it was light and tasty.

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  4. I made these for dinner tonight and they were absolutely delicious! You have wonderful recipes- thank you!

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    1. I'm so glad you liked them! Thanks for your comment!

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  5. These look delicious, Sonali...a perfect way to use the bounty of zucchini that will soon be upon us!

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    1. Yes, This is definitely the season for zucchini recipes!

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  6. Hey Sonali, This is my first time commenting on your blog. All I can say is you you have an amazing collection of recipes with a lot of nutritional information too. I hav a lot of reading to do here:)

    The fritters look totally delicious!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by- I hope you try some of my recipes!

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  7. Hi, I tried those last week and they were delicious! Reminded me of my mum's Lebanese version but the addition of the feta was even better. Did the tzatziki as well but the Lebanese way; dried mint instead of dill and thinned it out with water instead of lemon juice as our yogurt is pretty sour on it own. Loved the combo! I'm sure I'll be trying more recipes of yours. Thanks for sharing

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    1. I'm so glad you liked them! I've never made tzatziki with dried mint, I'll have to try it. Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. hi.. what kind of cheese do u use ..thanks

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  9. I made these for dinner tonight and they were wonderful! So light and full of flavor, yum!

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  10. This is how my recipe started off this morning for breakfast served with sun side egg on top! minus the herbs. But what a great twist to the recipe.. Then since I had about half left over but not enough for lunch! I finely julienned a sad looking cabbage and along with fresh grated ginger and 2 eggs ! The cabbage worked perfectly. I will be using cabbage and ginger again!

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