Grate Expectations

As a non-observant Jew, Chanukah means one main thing to me: latkes! In college, I had a wonderful roommate who was a fellow member of the Tribe and potato-pancake aficionado. One year, she suggested we spread the love to our friends, most of whom had attended Catholic schools growing up and needed to learn the way of the latke. We would throw a Chanukah party! This was all fine and good until she revealed that her proposed guest list was twenty names long. That meant twenty latke-gobbling humans in our apartment, shoveling potato pancakes into their maws as fast as we could fry them up.

It didn’t turn out to be the epic disaster I’d vehemently sworn it would be. Nevertheless, four pounds of potatoes into our preparation, I was casting evil glares in her direction as I bloodied my knuckles over a washboard grater, the pile of potatoes turning an unappetizing shade of gray as they were exposed to air. Unsurprisingly, I haven’t made a latke since.

But when I discovered the joys of my Cuisinart’s grating attachment, I suddenly wanted to grate everything in sight. I found a healthy outlet for this obsession before I could grate inappropriate foods like bread or frozen berries, and I found it here. A wonderful blog called Whipped features a page of mouth-watering Greek recipes, and I couldn’t help myself from making a dinner out of Caroline’s kolokithokeftedes, or zucchini fritters.

To a mass of immaculate zucchini shreds, I added flavorful fillers like mint, dill, feta, and minced scallions. The mixture came together with the help of an egg, some flour, pita crumbs, and a few flicks of a wooden spoon. The food processing fun, however, wasn’t over yet. I got to drop an entire cucumber in there for the accompanying tzatziki sauce.

After a quick browning on the griddle, these babies were devoured alongside spongy Greek pita bread and a bowl of smoky eggplant dip — for which I’d also been able to use my food processor! What a difference some good kitchen equipment makes in recipe experimentation, eh? It may only be March, but this Greek dinner made me feel like a kid on Chanukah morning.

Serves 4
Adapted from Whipped

– 1 cup Greek yogurt
– 1 cucumber
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 Tbsp. olive oil
– 1 tsp. white vinegar
– salt and white pepper, to taste
– 2 large zucchini, coarsely grated
– 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
– 1/2 cup chopped scallions
– 3 Tbsp. fresh mint, minced
– 2 Tbsp fresh dill, minced (or 1 Tbsp. dried)
– 1 egg
– 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
– 4 Tbsp. bread crumbs (I used stale pita, crumbled in a Cuisinart)
– good olive oil
– salt

1) Peel and seed cucumber, then coarsely grate by hand or in a food processor with grating attachment. Drain well.
2) Mix rest of ingredients together, then add salt and white pepper to taste.
3) Wash zucchini. With skins on, grate them by hand or in food processor. Place shreds in a colander and toss with a liberal amount of salt. Let drain at least 30 minutes.
4) In a medium bowl, mix feta, scallions, and herbs.
5) Handful by handful, remove zucchini strands from colander, squeezing out as much excess liquid as possible. Transfer zucchini to feta mixture.
6) Add egg, beating lightly. Mix in flour and bread crumbs, stirring to combine, and toss in salt to taste.
7) Heat thin layer of olive oil in the bottom of sauté pan or griddle, until droplets of water jump on contact with the pan. Add zucchini mixture in batches, flattening heaping spoonfuls into patties. Cook 3-4 minutes, or until nicely browned; flip fritters and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
8) Keep fritters on a baking sheet in warm oven until all zucchini mixture is cooked. Enjoy warm, topped with tzatziki.

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