A friend of the family’s gave us the big, honkin’ pumpkin last year and the first thing to go were the pumpkin seeds. Salted and baked and snacked on whilst passing the time (passa-tempo). I then cut the pumpkin into large pieces and baked them in the oven until for tender. No need to remove the shell of the pumpkin. Simply spoon out the soft flesh, discard the rest and thank heavens that you didn’t have to endure the tedious chore of peeling a pumpkin.
I now have a few bags of frozen pumpkin puree on hand and this past weekend I made some pumpkin fritters. These fritters are a riff on a Greek fave, “kolokithokeftedes” or, zucchini fritters. Pumpkins are referred to as “yellow squash’ in Greek and are related to the abundant summer vegetable, the zucchini.
In both cases, the vegetable must be free of as much excess liquid as possible for a successful fritter. The most common shape of these fritters is like a hamburger patty but you may rolls these up into meatballs, if that turns your crank. These patties make for a wonderful meze or appetizer, a snack or part of a vegetarian or Lenten table. Greek Lent is fast approaching.
Zucchini fritters are usually shallow fried in oil but in this instance I’m baking them off in the oven. I discovered this method while flipping through Three Greek Sisters cookbook. The sisters share their family recipes, wrote all the copy of the book, photographed and self-published – that’s a girl power!
The Three Greek Sisters cookbook has a recipe for baked pumpkin fritters and I was immediately drawn to the method. There’s no frying, a huge reduction in oil use, less time to prepare and overall, a healthier fritter. There’s no baking powder in these, and although the Sisters’ recipe calls for some breadcrumb in the mix, I used none. I had squeezed almost all the water out of the pumpkin puree.
Beyond the usual egg as the binder, what would hold these fritters together you might ask? Potatoes. Par-boiled potatoes. I used Russet potatoes (starchy) and I boiled the potatoes with their skins on – retaining much of the starch needed for binding and most of it’s nutrients.
Flavourings for the pumpkin fritters were focused on my family’s favourites: chopped fresh dill, some mint and scallions. Add the crumbled Feta cheese and you have a balanced fritter with sweet pumpkin, tart Feta and the brightness of fresh dill.
1 large Russet potato, skin on
3 cups of cooked pumpkin puree (became 2 cups when squeezed of excess water)
4 scallions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint (1 Tbsp. if dry)
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1 cup of Feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 tsp. black pepper
bread crumbs (optional)
olive oil for brushing/greasing pan
Pre-heated 425F oven
- Place your cooked pumpkin puree in a colander (with a bowl underneath) and place in the fridge over night. Place a handful of pumpkin inside a cotton tea towel and wring out as much liquid as possible. Place in large bowl and repeat with remaining pumpkin puree.
- In the meantime, place a medium pot of water on your stove-top and when it comes to a boil, add some salt and carefully drop your potato in. Lower the heat to medium and parboil the potato for about 10-12 minutes. Remove the potato and place in a bowl with cold/iced water. As soon as it’s cool enough to handle, peel the skin off with the dull side of a knife. Now coarsely grate the potato into bowl with the pumpkin.
- In a small skillet, add a couple of turns of olive oil add your scallions and garlic into a skillet over medium heat. Sweat the scallions & garlic for about 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool before adding into the bowl with the pumpkin.
- Add the cooled scallion mixture, chopped herbs, egg, grated potato, crumbled Feta , black pepper and mix with a spatula. If the mixture is too coarse, get your hands in there and mix them well. If the mixture is too dry, add a little olive oil and if the mixture is too wet, add some bread crumbs. Mix again.
- Grab a small handful of the pumpkin mixture in your hand and roll into a ball and then flatten into a patty. Place the patty on a baking tray that’s been greased with olive oil. Make the remaining pumpkin mixture into patties.
- Brush the tops of the fritters with olive oil and set the back rack to the third position from the top of the oven. Place the baking tray in your pre-heated oven for ten minutes. Flip the patties and bake for another 1o minutes. Serve warm.
- Pair with a Gaia Notios white from Nemea.
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