If fried greek courgette patties (kolokithokeftedes) didn’t have the bothersome and demanding task, the absolute necessity of squeezing hard the living daylights out of the courgette, then it would be one more easy greek summer food to prepare. (And all of us who order this dish in tavernas all summer long, wouldn’t look as disappointed as when we are served with a watery kolokithokefte with hardly any fragrance of courgette or spearmint placed , the sole reason being that the courgettes and onions weren’t salted beforehand and squeezed with bravado…)
The half kilo (17.64 oz) of courgettes this dish requires doesn’t cost more than a euro, so make sure to buy only organic courgettes, thus gaining in taste.
If you love courgette patties (because this is what kolokithokeftedes is after all) and decide to cook them often, then I highly recommend that you either get some densely woven muslin or an old linen kitchen towel that you’ll know in advance will turn permanently green from wringing courgettes and you won’t mind one bit. It’s worth ruining any number of linen towels because, I promise you, you’ll never be able to squeeze out all the juice from this salted and full-of-water vegetable with your bare hands, strong chef hands or not.
You must, initially, salt the courgettes, leave them for a couple of hours in a colander to drain their water – and you will be amazed how much! –then, you have to wring out the courgettes until they are completely dry.
When you start adding the rest of the ingredients (the dry cheeses and the finely ground breadcrumbs), you’ll be surprised by how dry the mixture is, but until you place your courgette patties into the hot olive oil, some juices will be released and ,when mixed with the flour, come nicely together to form a perfect golden-brown crust whilst frying while keeping a perfectly moist center.
It took a few trial and errors to find the failproof doses of the various ingredients which would keep the humidity of the kolokithokeftedes in balance, but I believe I’ve finally found the right amounts for the recipe I’ve created here.
Fried kolokithokeftedes in all their shapes and sizes (ball, patty, in sizes S-M-L-XL-XXL) is an all-time favourite summer snack. With only a minimal amount of extra ingredients, this food will compliment pasta with a sweet red sauce.
This is how I first tried it in my Aunt Katia’s magical garden downtown Athens, and this is how I serve it to this day: salty cheesy kolokithokeftedes and pasta with sweet tomato sauce.
Near a wonderful jasmine bush and right next to freshly watered bright red geraniums …
Aunt Katia’s Kolokithokeftedes
- 8-10 small courgettes (about 500 gm/17.64 oz), grated, salted for a couple of hours and wrung thoroughly
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup hard salted cheese
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons finely ground breadcrumbs
- 1 handful finely chopped spearmint, leaves only
- 3-4 spring onions (finely chopped and squeezed with the dry onion and the courgettes)
- 2 tablespoons onion
- Olive oil for frying
Mix all the ingredients together and roll into balls, burgers, the size of your index finger when it touches your thumb…
Roll in flour, lightly.
The olive oil should be hot (not steaming).
Place the courgette balls in the oil as soon as they’re covered in flour, so that they don’t soak up the flour.
When they’re golden-brown on the bottom side, turn them over and, in the end, place them on absorbent kitchen paper.
They can be eaten hot or cold.