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 Frittersadapted 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