It all started with a cucumber-yogurt dip and garlic naan at the Taj Mahal restaurant in Escazú. It’s all their fault.
Let me back up.
Nick and I had a double date (hehe!) with another poker player, we met at a Pocket Fives meet-and-greet BBQ, and his girlfriend. He is from both Costa Rica and Venezuela, she is from Costa Rica. They are very nice, make us laugh, and laughed at our jokes. And also reference Seinfeld. We get along quite well.
We ate at the Taj Mahal; everyone’s first time. We had stuffed mushrooms, garlic naan (flatbread), and a simple cucumber-yogurt dip as appetizers. Nick and our friend ordered the Chicken and Beef kebabs, respectfully. The girlfriend and I ordered the fish and prawn coconut-cashew curry.
Oh. My. Taste buds.
This was my first experience with traditional curry and Indian food and I fear nothing short of India itself can compare. I’m sure I’m overreacting, but it was good. All served with basmati rice. The yogurt dip came in handy to cut the spice, perfect with the cucumbers.
This is where it hit me: I need tzatziki.
Since Wednesday I couldn’t get the thought out of my mind, and worse, now I’m craving feta (not a cheap commodity here). With the promise of future meals, Nick more than encouraged the experimenting. Get ready for this.
Zucchini, Spinach, and Feta Fritters
- 1 cup Zucchini, shredded, drained
- 1 cup Spinach, cooked, drained
- 1 small Onion, julienned
- 3 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 Egg, whisked
- a pinch of Dill
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup Flour, sifted
- Olive Oil
- 16oz thick Plain Yogurt, drained, Greek is ideal but nonexistent down here
- 1 medium Cucumber, seeded, cubed
- 3 cloves Garlic, minced
- 3 Tb Olive Oil
- 1 Tb White wine vinegar, I used balsamic and it turned out fine
- 2 tsp Dill
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Cold Beet Salad
- 2 Beets, boiled, sliced however you like
- 1/4 cup Feta, crumbled
- 1/8 cup Parmesan, shredded
- 1 Tb Olive oil
I started by boiling my beets, which took about a half hour. Coarsely shred the zucchini and place in a mesh colander to drain the excess liquid off. Coarsely chop the spinach and place in a small pan with a little bit of water; steam until bright green then add to the zucchini to drain. The tzatziki needs to refrigerate for at least a half hour to let the flavors mingle, so it’s best to start it early. Place the salt, pepper, vinegar, oil, and garlic in a medium bowl and whisk to incorporate. Add the yogurt, mix to combine. Finally, add the dill and cucumber, mix, taste test, then cover and refrigerate. So simple.
Next I prepared the beet salad because that is a dish that also needs time in the cooler. Drain the beets and once cool, peel and slice to your desired size and shape. I cubed mine but next time I think I would prefer slices. Place the beets, cheese, and oil in a bowl and lightly toss. Cover and refrigerate.
Continue to drain the spinach and zucchini, pressing every once in a while, to remove excess water. The fritters come together quickly so wait to prepare them until you’re ready to eat. When you’re ready, put the spinach and zucchini in a large bowl add onion, garlic, salt, pepper, dill, and the egg then mix gently to combine. Mix in the flour. I would prefer to bake them, I think they would be crispier and healthier, but no one knows how to work our oven. Lucky for Nick, these were fried.
Heat a cast iron pan to medium heat, lower if you’re making large fritters, and add the oil. I had only a cast iron wok so I managed two fritters at a time with a hungry fella over my shoulder the whole time. Hopefully you have something larger. Dollop a spoonful of the mixture in the hot pan and flatten gently. Watch the clock for 2 minutes, and leave them alone. No poking until 2 minutes is up. Check the bottom and if it’s golden brown, flip for another 2 minutes. Timing was really helpful here and mine ended up taking 2-4 minutes per side. Experiment with temperatures, sizes, and times to find what works best for you. Serve immediately with tzatziki.
We ate them so fast out of the pan below is the only shot I got of their existence. Did I mention Nick really doesn’t like zucchini and doesn’t have a particular fondness for spinach? And I got him to eat beets. Big night. As leftovers, they are almost better. Just heat a skillet up and toss them on, no added fat this time.
Eat it, love it, feel good about it. – Jes