This Saturday, I took a trip to the Geauga Fresh Farmer’s Market for the first time and was overall very pleased! I went with my mom, and she seemed to share the same feeling. It’s small, but it has a lot of variety… Everything from baked goods to fresh veggies to hydrangea plants. My baker friend Lea of Terra Bakery turned me onto the market because she makes and sells wonderful vegan baked goods there. I mean, these are absolutely heavenly, even to omnivores. My fiancé really loved the carrot cakes she makes, and the coconut brownies are amazing. OK, I need to stop talking about it before I drool all over my keyboard.
At any rate, I picked up a few items at the market: organic zucchini, raspberry jam, and from Terra Bakery a maple-“bacon” scone and coconut brownie. I bought the zucchini because I couldn’t remember the last time I had cooked with one, but once I got it home, I had no clue what to do with it. Just slicing and cooking them as a side dish sounded so boring. So I flipped through a few of my cookbooks and finally settled on a recipe in my copy of Veganomicon. Great! Something to tell me exactly what to do with this thing to make it yummy!
Greek-Style Tomato-Zucchini Fritters with Fresh Herbs
(why does Veganomicon insist on having long food names?)
The preface to the printed recipe recommends that the fritters be served with the Cashew-Cucumber Dip that is below. Anytime a recipe recommends another recipe, I think that it’s going to be double the work. But it really wasn’t too bad. The preface additionally recommends that if you are a “fry-o-phobe”, you may alternatively bake them. Since I try to eat as healthy as possible, I went along with the baking route. I guess you could call me a “fry-o-phobe” now.
I used my KitchenAid food processor to blend together the first half of the ingredients. For the omnivores out there, don’t be alarmed by the word “tofu”. I couldn’t taste it in the finished result and it does wonders for the smooth texture. I also added an extra clove of garlic. I am a garlic lover, so I always add a bit more than the recipe calls for, but not so much that it doesn’t overpower. Then I mixed in bread crumbs, dried dill, and fresh mint. The recipe called for fresh dill but I don’t have dill in my herb garden (yet!). Then I folded in some grated zucchini and finely chopped tomatoes. It’s been a little over a year since I bought my food processor, and I’m just now discovering the grating and slicing blade that it came with. I can’t believe that I didn’t use this thing earlier! I just wanted to throw out the messy hand grater to save my hands in the future. It would’ve taken me 5-10 minutes to grate a cup of zucchini by hand, but it took about 30 seconds with the food processor. What an amazing time-saver!
Now I have to break away for a minute and tell you just how much I love my KitchenAid food processor. I’m just really that passionate about it. I would recommend it to anyone. It’s one of those great pieces of machinery that makes your life so much easier that you didn’t know how you managed without it. I’m making more soups and dips and eating healthier than I did before, because it’s so much better than a blender. It’s quiet, easy to clean, made well, and just so convenient. If I could marry it and make little humanoid-KitchenAid babies, I would. That’s how much I love it. And no, I’m not being paid for this advertisement. (Although if you click that link, I might just get a referral bonus from Amazon.) :o)
Anyway, back to the recipe. At this point, you have grated zucchini and tomatoes mixed in with some pinkish mush. I took clumps of the mix and rolled them in a bowl with some breadcrumbs then flattened them. This is where you can either fry the fritters or bake them. I took the baking route and placed them on a cookie sheet with a little olive oil.
1-lb firm tofu, squeezed to remove extra water (place a heavy dinner plate on top for 10 minutes or so), then crumbled
1/4 cup ground walnuts
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp tomato juice
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs, plus 1/3 cup for coating
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1/2 lb zucchini, grated and squeezed to remove excess water
1 lb seeded, finely chopped tomatoes, drained to remove extra liquid
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Blend the tofu, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, tomato paste, oregano, salt, and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth. Taste and add more salt and pepper if you wish. Scrape into a large bowl and mix in the bread crumbs, dill, and mint — it should have the consistency of a thick cookie dough. (Add more breadcrumbs by the tablespoon if it’s not quite there). Fold in the zucchini and tomatoes.
Create golf-ball sized balls of the mixture, and drop into the bread crumbs and roll to coat. Flatten to about 1 inch thick.
Rub a large cookie sheet with olive oil, and as you complete each fritter, arrange so they do not touch. Spray with olive oil, then place in the oven and cook for 35 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
Mediterranean-Style Cashew-Cucumber Dip
(again, an unnecessarily long name)
I love cucumbers. They’re so versatile, and the taste of them just screams “SUMMER!” to me. The preface to this recipe compares it to “the classic Greek cucumber yogurt dip tzatziki”, but to be honest, I have no idea what they’re talking about. I’ve tried plenty of Greek food, but must have never had it, maybe because “yogurt” is in the description. :o)
I again used my food processor to grate a seedless cucumber. This step took all of 30 seconds. Then I squeezed out as much cucumber juice as possible. I tasted the juice and briefly wondered if I could successfully sell it for some income. (Hey, when a girl is unemployed, she tends to get extra creative.) I searched for it on Amazon.com and found something similar, but it’s getting horrible reviews. I bet you I could make it better.
So then you just throw the rest of the ingredients in, sparing half the cucumber and some dill. Once everything is blended well, mix in the leftover grated cucumber, and voila! You have a delicious fresh-tasting creamy sauce without all that dairy fat! Again, I didn’t have fresh dill, so I used dried and it still came out wonderful.
1 pound seedless cucumber, peeled and grated (about 1 2/3 cup loosely packed)
1 cup raw cashews (5 ounces)
2 large garlic cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
pinch of ground white pepper
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh dill (optional)
Squeeze handfuls of grated cucumber over a medium-sized bowl to remove as much juice as possible. You can do this also by wrapping a grated cucumber in a cheese cloth or heavy paper towel. Set aside the juice and place the squeezed cucumber in a large bowl.
Combine the cashews, lemon juice, half the grated cucumber, garlic, olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Blend until creamy, scraping the sides of the processor bowl frequently. Add 1 to 3 tablespoons of reserved cucumber juice to the sauce. The final consistency should resemble a not-too-thick hummus. Scrape into a medium-size bowl and stir in the remaining grated cucumber and chopped dill.
Cover and chill until ready to use.
- Greek-Style Tomato-Zucchini Fritters with Fresh Herbs: 4 out of 5 stars
- When I make the fritters again, I’ll try frying them because the texture might have come out a bit different. I think they were supposed to have a crunchy outer texture, but they were more oily than crunchy. Although it would probably be double the fat, I’m curious to see what it would do to the texture. I’ll just fast 2 days ahead of time to make up for it. (kidding of course)
- I warmed the leftovers in the toaster oven today, and they came out with a little crunchier surface. Maybe I can just bake them longer next time.
- Mediterranean-Style Cashew-Cucumber Dip: 5 out of 5 stars
- I’ll be making this dip again and again. It wasn’t only a good compliment to the fritters, but I found that while I was waiting for them to warm in the toaster oven today that it was also a nice compliment to pita and blue corn tortilla chips. :o)
- I will be bringing this to parties.
Excuse the poor photograph. I may have to invest in some nice plates and some photography lessons.