Asparagus Fritters

Apr 7th, 2011 | By | Category: Appetizer, Asparagus, Cheese, Featured, Frying, Greek, Greek Wine, Herbs, Kavala, Onions, Vegetables

Last year in Greece I had the pleasure of visiting the city of Kavala, just 90 minutes east of Thessaloniki in northern Greece. It is also the principal seaport of eastern Macedonia and it’s situated near the beautiful island of Thassos. The Apostle Paul landed here on his first trip to Europe and the fortress located on the acropolis of the city is called Christoupolis (also the olden name of Kavala).

Venetians and the Ottomans also occupied Kavala through the ages and the aqueduct built by Suleman I runs through the city and is often used as a city symbol to this day. On the day I visited Kavala, I had scheduled a tour of the Biblia Hora winery and then an early evening dinner in the old ‘limani’ (port) area of Kavala. The wine tour was set up by my friend Stella Spanou.

Stella is an extraordinary cook who grew-up in Thessaloniki, spent summers in Halkidiki and currently lives with her family in Xanthi, just east of Kavala. When I met Stella, she was also very busy putting the finishing touches on her cookbook, “Kavala’s Flavours”...a cookbook featuring dishes and products from Kavala and its surrounding towns and villages.

The recipes are a combination of traditional recipes and some of Stella’s personal creations using ingredients that are produced in the region of Kavala. The book is currently only available in Greek but the recipes triple-tested, delicious and all the photos were taken by Stella herself! I was curious to try one of the first recipes to appear in the book…asparagus fritters.

Wild asparagus has grown in Greece for a Millenia but the green and white varieties that you and I see in the markets have been cultivated in Greece since the 60’s. Asparagus requires patience as it takes 3 threes for the first crop to appear and much of the nutrients in the soil are absorbed by the asparagus while growing. Asparagus farming depletes the soil rapidly and therefore the soil must lie fallow for years before cultivation may resume. Asparagus is in Greece is therefore is not cheap because of this and the price is squeezed upwards due to the fact that about 70% of the asparagus crop is exported.

driving to Kavala

 

Three varieties of asparagus are produced in Greece: green, white and the green spears with a purple tinge. In Stella’s recipe, the white asparagus are used. The green in asparagus (and other green vegetables) comes from chlorophyl and the white variety of asparagus are grown in the dark, starved of light/no ability for chlorophyl to be produced and leaving the asparagus white.

The most common asparagus here in Canada are the green variety and that’s what I used here in Stella’s recipe. I’ve taken a few liberties with the recipe like adding some scallions in the mix and dredging the patties in a flour and cornmeal combo. These asparagus fritters are crisp on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside. The golden outside and green colour from the asparagus make these appetizers easy on the eyes, the herbs brighten the flavour and the crumbled Feta offering just enough tartness and seasoning.

Asparagus Fritters (Σπαραγγοκεφτεδες της Στέλλα’ς)

(makes 12)

1 bunch of fresh asparagus (about 1 kg.)

4 scallions, thinly sliced

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 chopped fresh dill

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp. dried Greek oregano

2 eggs

1/2 cup of bread crumbs

1 cup of crumbled feta cheese

fresh ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup all purpose flour + 1/2 cup cornmeal for dredging

vegetable for frying

  1. Place a skillet on your stove-top and add a turn of olive oil over medium heat. Add your sliced scallions and cook until softened and translucent (in about 5 minutes). Take off the heat and allow to cool.
  2. In the meantime, rinse your asparagus and cut-off or snap-off the woody ends and discard. Grate your asparagus with a box-grater or simply place in your food processor and pulse until the asparagus have the consistency of thin shavings. Squeeze any moisture left in the asparagus with your hands and place in a bowl along with the cooled cooked scallions, herbs, eggs and stir with a spatula. Add the breadcrumbs in increments until the mixture binds well. Now add the crumbled Feta and fresh ground pepper and gently mix in.
  3. Form your fritters by rolling into palm-sized balls then flatten and form them into patties. Mix your flour and cornmeal with a fork and lightly dredge your patties in them.
  4. Pour enough vegetable oil into a skillet to come-up 1cm and heat to 350F. Gently place your patties into the hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes a side or until just golden. Reserve on paper-lined plate and then serve warm as an appetizer with a Biblia Hora Lefkos, an Assyrtiko-Sauvignon Blanc blend.

* Stella was recently in Paris to receive an award for her book – she won in Best World Cookbook in the category of photography.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at  http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

© 2007-2011 Peter Minakis

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22 Comments to “Asparagus Fritters”

  1. bellini says:

    Now there’s a way to enjoy asparagus that I would love Peter. Asparagus is already one of my favourites but this takes it to a new level.

  2. Jonny says:

    love that electric green of the fritters! i once made (or rather tried to make) falafel with fresh fava beans and peas and it had a similar hue (but they fell apart because the mixture was too wet, another story). great shot of the aqueduct. reminds me of the roman one that runs right through the heart of segovia, spain.

  3. Rosa says:

    Those are original fritters! I really want to try them once I get my hands on asparaguses…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  4. DROOOOOOOL!!! I love fritters and have never seen them with asparagus. What a perfect springtime dish.

  5. Dragon says:

    I’m glad you didn’t use white asparagus…green is a much more pretty colour. :)

  6. PatmosGigi says:

    ohhhhhhh I Love love love Kolokithokeftedes…so I know i’d LOVE these…and I just happen to have left over asparagus from the salad with feta I made tonight (from the recipe you posted….) I even took a snapshot of it, it is such a wonderful blend of flavors!!!!!!!!!

  7. Your photography is worthy of a prize too Peter. those fritters are jumping right off the screen. Love the photos of the countryside around Kavala and the aqueduct too.

  8. What an interesting story; I did not know that growing asparagus required so much from the earth! (I had them confused with weeds I guess!); this lady sounds so interesting and I would like to read her cookbook (Oops! I dont read greek)
    the fritters remind me of the Yemeni falafel I made once. yummy.

  9. Simone says:

    I’ve never thought of making fritters out of asparagus. But this looks absolutely delicious !

  10. Cool and interesting way to get the asparagus in your diet. Only recently have I found a real love for asparagus, will try the recipe out, wonder if it’s work a treat with Haloumi?

  11. Cherine says:

    Ohhh I love to try these! They look so tempting!

  12. ELENA says:

    Συνταγή της Στέλλας είναι σίγουρα δοκιμασμένη και πεντανόστιμη!!!
    Λαχταριστοί οι κεφτέδες!!!!

  13. kat says:

    I love other veggies in fritters, why didn’t I ever thing of asparagus!

  14. Katerina says:

    My mother’s parents when they came as refugees from Asia Minor, they were located in Nea Karvali just outside Kavala. Then they moved to Athens. I have never been to Kavala or Nea Karvali and it is a trip I want to do sometime. These keftedes must be very tasty just like all these types of mezedes.

  15. nina says:

    The green color is beautiful for sure, but you had me on the crumbed feta inside the fritters!! I am early awaiting your book, Peter!!

  16. […] the next month, we're all going to be stuffing our faces full of local asparagus. This fritter variation is interesting and unique and great for those times when the butter/lemon/garlic combo gets too […]

  17. I have visited Kavala once. I love the accent they speak.

  18. Helen says:

    Do you think I could Panko instead of breadcrumbs?

  19. Shelby says:

    These look SO GOOD! We love asparagus here!

  20. I’ve been loving asparagus this spring and looking for different ways to serve it. These fritters look fantastic! The feta and herbs in them sound great.

  21. Robin Sue says:

    Peter I saw these on FB when you posted them and could not get it out of my mind. Will put these on the to make this week list!
    R-Sue

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