Friday, September 5, 2014

Zucchini Keftedes with Feta and Dill

I must confess that it wasn't until I came here to share this recipe that I finally looked up what a keftede was. I have prepared this recipe in ignorance for three summers and running now. As it turns out, keftedes are Greek and refer to fried meatballs that contain breadcrumbs, onion and mint.  Apparently these are their vegetarian counterparts, though I would called these more "pancakes" than "balls."

If you find yourself surrounded by zucchini plants that don't seem to understand the definition of "all things in moderation, " then this recipe is for you. It's not like those zucchini bread recipes (or even the cupcake recipe I posted recently) that barely make a dent in your pile of summer squash. This one actually uses a substantial amount and the result has been deemed delicious by all members of my family.

It was my husband who first dog-eared this recipe in what has become one of our favorite cooking magazines. Imagine my surprise when my meat-loving man made a move in the direction of a vegetable. Granted, they are practically fried (though I greatly reduced the amount of oil the original recipe called for and they turned out fine), but a vegetable dish all the same. I made them immediately so as not to lose his peaked interest.

Historically I have shyed away from any recipes that contain dill. It may be yours but dill isn't traditionally my jam, or at least so I thought. It could just be that the depth of my relationship with the herb goes only as far as a piece of bland and dry salmon sprinkled with the stuff and then stamped with a proud "Northwest Favorite" on the restaurant menu. But, for the undying affection of my husband, whom I adore, I decided to follow the recipe and buy and small bunch and see where it landed me. HEY! As it turns out, dill ain't so bad, particularly in this recipe where I might go as far as to say it's presence is essential.

These keftedes (or how about we call them pancakes?), unlike a lot of zucchini recipes, are packed with flavor. The feta cheese and cool tangy yogurt add a lovely finish. Of note, to create pancakes that hold together, it is important that you remove as much of the moisture as possible from the zucchini first. I find sometimes it is easier to make this recipe phases. It sounds like it takes a long time but it really doesn't. I grate the zucchini first thing, sprinkle it with salt and then let a kitchen towel absorb the moisture for a while. After an hour or so, I return to make and form the pancakes and then throw them back in the fridge until dinnertime when they can be cooked up pretty quickly to serve.

Zucchini Keftedes with Feta and Dill
(adapted slightly from Bon Appetit Magazine)
1 1/3 pounds (about 4 medium-sized) zucchini, trimmed  
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt 
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions  
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill 
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint  
2 garlic cloves, minced  
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel  
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)  
1 large egg, beaten to blend  
1 cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese 
4-6 Tablespoons canola oil (for pan frying)  
Plain non-fat Greek-style yogurt (for garnish)  
Additional chopped fresh dill (for garnish) 

Grate zucchini on large holes of box grater onto clean kitchen towel. Sprinkle zucchini with 1 teaspoon coarse salt; let stand at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil. Wrap zucchini in towel; squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Place zucchini in medium bowl. Mix in green onions, 3 tablespoons chopped dill, mint, garlic, lemon peel, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Gently stir in panko and egg, then feta. Using 2 tablespoons zucchini mixture for each, shape mixture into 1 3/4- to 2-inch-diameter patty; place on baking sheet. Chill at least 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 4 hours ahead. Keep chilled.

Pour 1 to 2 Tablespoons of canola oil at a time into heavy large skillet; heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches and adding more canola oil as needed, place patties in skillet. Cook until golden and cooked through, adjusting heat if browning too quickly, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Using thin slotted spatula, transfer to paper towels.

Arrange keftedes on platter. Top each with dollop of yogurt. Sprinkle each with dill. Serve warm or at room temperature.


  1. What!!! No wonder they made me think you! (assuming you saw my link in instagram) They just seemed like something you would really like..... I don't like dill either, guess I'll have to try adding it next time! Kyle doesn't like mint, so ours have been basil, parsley & tarragon flavored, which is also delicious - I'm guess most herb combinations work. I've been using a GF AP flour blend for ours this summer and it works great.

  2. Hi, I just made this recipe, because I had a big zucchini. I loved these Greek fritters, your recipe is very good. I added a bit less of the breadcrumbs and some fresh garlic and garlic granules. Instead of the green onions, I grated 1/2 a medium white onion ( like I would for latkes ). And some cayenne, THEY were so so good ! What an easy recipe too. thx !


posted by kelsie