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Greek Zucchini Fritters (Kolokithokeftedes)

I have spent quite a bit of time in Greece. I lived and worked there in my late twenties and, oddly enough, I don't have a ton of great food memories. When I think of my time in Italy or in Spain, I can almost taste all of the delectable delights that I enjoyed on a daily basis but when I think of Greece, there are only a handful of food memories that I can still conjure up. While there, I would tell people I was from Toronto and they would often say "Oh, my brother/cousin/uncle has a restaurant on the Danforth. Toronto has the best Greek food in the world!" and I would always laugh but I kind of got what they were saying. In my head, I think that I don't care for Greek food but if you go through both of my food blogs, you will find that I actually cook Greek all the time. I never said I was a reasonable person.

I find that I often turn to Greek food when I have to feed a crowd in an informal setting. It just makes so much sense to put out a spread of mezes and let everyone serve themselves. For The Kid's birthday, we did just that and I made tzatziki, hummus, babaganoush and garides me feta. Of course, we don't stick to only traditional greek dishes so there was also grilled sausage, steak and kale salad but the style of eating is definitely inspired by my time in Greece.

delicious birthday spread

garides me feta (shrimp baked with white wine and feta)

You know, if you really want to eat a great meal in Greece, try to get invited to someone's house for a family dinner. You will eat delicious things, freshly prepared with love and care by an army of grandmothers, mothers and aunts. It was at one of these family dinners that I first tasted a freshly fried zucchini fritter or kolokithokeftedes. It was so flavourful, full of salty feta and fresh mint. They are crispy on the outside but creamy and rich on the inside and they immediately became one of my favourite new things to eat there. I used to make them all the time back at home but I recently realized that I haven't tried these things in almost 20 years because Shack and The Kid think that they don't like zucchini. We were doing a Greek spread for The Kid's birthday dinner and it seemed like the perfect time to bust out the kolokithodkeftedes.  These little babies were the biggest hit of the whole meal and Shack, who claims to hate zucchini, scarfed down two and would have taken a few more but there were no more left to take.

If you don't care about authenticity, you could substitute the herbs and feta for any other herb and creamy, crumbly cheese. It would be great with, say, fresh basil and ricotta salata or goat's cheese and fresh thyme. Oh, and if you like dill, please add a tbls of fresh, chopped dill because most kolokithokeftedes will have dill in them but I just really don't do dill myself.

Greek Zucchini Fritters

 adapted frrom Michael Symon     serves 6 to 8

1 lb zucchini (somewhere between 2 huge and 4 small)
1 tsp coarse salt
2 scallions, sliced thinly
2 tbls fresh mint, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
zest of one lemon
100 g feta, crumbled
a few grinds of black pepper or to taste
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 tbls flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

canola oil for fryingserve with tzatziki  , homemade or a good store bought

Grate the zucchini on a coarse grater. You can either lay it on some cheesescloth or a clean dish towel. Toss it with the salt and let it sit while you get the rest of your ingredients ready or for about 20 minutes.Put the scallions, mint, garlic, zest, a few grinds of black pepper and feta in a large bowl and toss lightly.  Squeeze all of the liquid out of your zucchini by twisting the top of the gathered up tea towel or cheese cloth. Keep tightening and twisting and squeezing the zucchini until most of the liquid has been released - it's actually kind of amazing to see just how much liquid comes out. When you are satisfied that most of the water has been squeezed out of your zucchini, add it to the bowl and mix it thoroughly.Heat a heavy skillet or frying pan over med heat (you have to know your own stove and cookware - if I use cast iron or enamelled cast iron, I have to be slightly under medium heat and if I use my non stick frying pan, I am just above medium) and add about 1 tbls of oil and swirl it around the pan to cover the bottom. Drop blobs of the mixture into the hot pan and use a spatula to flatten them down a bit - the thinner they are the crispier they will be. I like them a bit chewy in the middle so I don't go too thin but it's up to you how you like them. Fry them for about 4 minutes until they are nice and brown and then flip them and cook them for another 3 minutes on the other side.

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