And we’re home… Even though it is a bit cold here in Manchester, I am happy to be here. I missed the local food shops, visiting the park with the kids, nearby family and friends, our little 80s semi, our cat Bert, my proper camera (flew with Ryanair so decided it was too heavy)… No matter where I go and how nice the place is (and boy Spain was so nice – and hot!), I’m always happy to come home and be surrounded by certain comforts. A good sign surely. One of the things I have missed the most is the diverse range of food and ingredients that are readily available in a city.
Fancy a Vietnamese takeaway on a Saturday evening? No problem (it was very nice, too!). Want to pick up some tofu to make my Mee goreng? That’s easy, I’ll pop out and pick the ingredients up, back in ten! You don’t get the same easy access to diverse ingredients when you are in a rural location – in Spain or in England for that matter. And as much as I love the Spanish campo, when it comes to cooking at least, I think I am a city girl – but only just.
When you are out in the sticks, you are limited to cooking with the relatively small amount of ingredients to hand, which can be both a good and a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. On the negative side, you are limited in what you can cook. But on the plus side, it makes you cook in a different, more natural, seasonal and local way. It focuses the mind to utilise the best local ingredients and make the most of what’s available in the local shops, or in the very earth around you. Hence the Olive oil, honey, lemon and lavender cake I blogged the other day. And now these, my Courgette, feta and herb fritters (made a few days ago when I was still in Andalucia), which I immediately thought of when I saw some gargantuan courgettes in the local shop….
These Spanish courgettes were enormous! And so fresh, really nice and firm. Courgettes aren’t in season until July here in the UK. So shelve this recipe for a few weeks if you want to do it (unless of course you use shipped in ones which is OK by me). Whether you wait or not, it demands good fresh courgettes, so if you grow your own (as we once did, I miss our old allotment!) and you have a glut this summer, this recipe is just perfect. Fresh herbs is another must here, it really makes the dish, although you could try it with a little dried mint which, of all dried herbs, actually has its merits (alongside oregano). But never, I repeat never, use dried parsley in this, or in anything in fact. In my opinion dried parsley should be illegal. Dire stuff it is… Buy the best feta in the shop too as it makes a difference. All you need to eat alongside is a slice of lemon and a cold beer. Best devoured fresh on a hot day. And by the way, kids seem to love these, babies too – so try them if you’re struggling to get vegetables inside your little ones.
Makes: about 20 fritters (enough for a starter for 6 or a lunch for 4)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes (per batch)
Total time: 20 – 30 minutes
3 very large (mine were so huge) or equivalent small courgettes, grated on a large cheese grater
50g plain flour
1 teaspoon of paprika (I used Spanish dulce)
2 spring onions, chopped very finely
Large handful or fresh parsley, chopped
Large handful or fresh mint, chopped
200g packet of feta cheese
Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
Olive oil, to fry
- Grate your courgettes and then place them in a clean tea towel and wrap in a bundle. Now squeeze them as hard as you can to get rid of excess liquid.
- Whisk your eggs with your flour in a large mixing bowl.
- Add your courgettes, paprika, finely sliced spring onion and fresh herbs to the same bowl and get in with your hands, combining well.
- Now crumble your feta in, don’t overly smush it up; you want recognisable lumps of melting cheese in there.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a generous tablespoon of olive oil in a pan (have two pans on the go if you want to get them done quickly like I did). A medium to high heat is about right.
- Put a generous dessertspoon’s worth of the mixture into the hot oil and let it sizzle for a few minutes before carefully turning. Once turned, let it sizzle for a minute and then flatten it slightly with a fish slice or fork to ensure that all the mixture will cook through. Make sure you are cooking them long enough to cook everything thoroughly; you don’t want rawness in the middle. You may worry that they are charring too much on the outside, in which case turn the heat down a little bit. I found that, like pancakes, it took a few goes to get into the swing. Have an oven on low (about 80C) to put the ‘done’ ones into so they keep warm. Heat more oil with each fresh pan’s worth…
- We served with some seasoned yoghurt (let down Greek or natural yoghurt with a little milk and garlic grated into it, then seasoned with salt – and also fresh mint). And a wedge of lemon is nice to serve alongside too.