My Nona made the most delicious Keftedes. Keftedes are Greek meatballs, and my Nona's version was a savory combination of leeks and ground beef, seasoned, then formed into patties, and fried in oil. Every Greek family has their own version, like every Italian family has their own marinara sauce. We actually pronounced it kiv-ti-kahs. Who knew if that was correct, but that was the way my Sephardic family pronounced it.
Kolokithokeftethes are actually Zucchini Keftedes. Zucchini Keftedes are actually Greek Zucchini Patties or Zucchini Fritters. Why didn't I just say that in the beginning, you ask? They aren't all exactly the same. Depending on whether the recipe has originated in Turkey or Greece, different versions of the recipe can have subtle differences, such as the addition of fresh parsley and onions in the Turkish version. This version is a very traditional Greek version.
It took me two decades to replicate Nona's recipe, but during my recipe research, I found hundreds of Keftedes recipes. There were endless combinations of meats, herbs, spices, vegetables and cheeses. I was especially intrigued by the vegetarian versions. I got very creative with dipping sauces (almost any food is better with a dipping sauce). Of course, tzatziki is the most traditional, and works with just about every Keftede, but I also tried versions of ranch dressing, honey mustard, spicy dipping sauces, jezebel sauce...the list is endless.
These Zucchini Keftedes are the perfect way to use this healthy summer vegetable. I'll also give you tips along the way to break down this recipe, so you can squeeze it into your busy day. If you have 10 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon, these can be ready from the refrigerator to the table at dinnertime, in 15 minutes. The leftovers are fabulous! You can reheat the Keftedes, stuff them into a pita, with lettuce, tomato, onion, feta and yogurt. You can serve them on top of a salad, you can melt mozzarella cheese over them and serve them on a roll with some arugula and Dijon. I am sure you can find a creative use for them.
adapted from BonAppetite.com
1 1/2 pounds medium 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
Safflower oil or Canola oil (for frying)
Plain non-fat Greek-style yogurt (for garnish)
Additional chopped fresh dill (for garnish)
DO AHEAD #1: 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. This step takes 5 minutes!
DO AHEAD #2 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. Can be made 6 hours ahead. Keep chilled.
Pour enough canola oil into heavy large skillet to reach depth of 1/4 inch; heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add patties to skillet. Cook until golden and cooked through, adjusting heat if browning too quickly, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Using slotted metal spoon, transfer to paper towels.
DO AHEAD #3 I like to have the keftedes ready about half an hour before I serve dinner. I keep them warm and crispy by placing them on a baking sheet in a 175 degree oven.
Arrange keftedes on platter. Top each with dollop of yogurt. Sprinkle each with dill. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Optional: Serve with Ranch dressing on the side or Jezebel sauce.