Ingredients: zucchini, Travnicki cheese, bulgur wheat, egg, scallion, lemon, bread crumbs, oregano, mint, black pepper, salt.
I came across recipes for kolokithokeftedes (Greek for “zucchini meatballs”) a few times while browsing other people’s food blogs, and finally got around to making them at home. This was an instance of being fairly sure I’d enjoy what I was cooking, yet with hardly a clue as to what it would taste like.
I started by preparing some coarse wheat bulgur. I love the chewiness of bulgur, and figured it would blend into and fortify the texture of my fritters. Most recipes suggested either breadcrumbs or plain flour, but I wanted more “tooth.”
When the bulgur had cooled, I combined it with the rest of the ingredients: an entire grated zucchini, an egg, chopped scallion, oregano, mint, a big squeeze of lemon, and plenty of salt & pepper. I also crumbled and blended in a block of Travnicki Sir, which is a Bosnian brined sheep’s milk cheese similar to mild feta. Although it surely didn’t matter for this particular recipe, I just love the texture of Travnicki. It’s light, nowhere near as dense as feta, yet with a stiff integrity and springy resistance to the bite. I often enjoy it with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.
Many of the kolokithokeftedes I saw online were flat patties, like latkes (Jewish potato pancakes, the only fritters Mom used to make). For some reason I wanted mine to be spherical. Another common feature I wished to avoid were the dark burned bits of zucchini flecking the outside of the fritters. So, before frying, I shaped the dough into golfballs, and gave them an extra roll-around in some bread crumbs. This provided a protective layer that saved the zucchini bits from blackening.
The results were spectacular, if a bit hard to describe. The outsides were crispy of course, but gave way quickly in the mouth to a creamy-yet-chewy filling, almost like risotto. There was no zucchini texture, but its flavor lurked in the background, providing a slightly bitter “healthy” taste. The foreground of the flavor profile was all Greek: herby from mint & oregano, tangy from lemon and feta, rich from the olive oil I used for frying.