These green fritters are not exactly pretty. They sort of look like mini spinach pancakes that were cooked for too long and would be consumed only by a health freak with no taste buds. But, when you pair them with lots of colorful and beautiful foods, their ugliness is muted. You just learned one of my secrets of food photography! These fritters were inspired by my favorite chef Yotam Ottolenghi and his recipe for Swiss chard fritters. Ottolenghi is a London-based chef originally from Jerusalem. His veggie-forward style of cooking is fresh, innovative, and illustrative of the wondrous possibilities of vegetarian cooking. Ottolenghi once said, “I found it appealing—the idea of celebrating vegetables or pulses without making them taste like meat, or as complements to meat, but to be what they are . . . . It does no favor to vegetarians, making vegetables second best." Reading through Ottolenghi's cookbooks has really helped me rethink the way I cook.
Some of the key techniques and food ideas I've learned from Ottolenghi include the following:
- Boldly mix of flavors and textures, instead of aiming for a uniform and subtle blending of flavors. For instance, add crunchy, savory, sweet, salty, and creamy to the same dish.
- Layer flavors at every step of cooking.
- Start with basic and simple ingredients but add an element of opulence and surprise - i.e., Ottolenghi's sweet potato and chickpea patties made with a coconut & apple salsa made with coconut cream.
- Use fresh herbs such as cilantro, parsley, dill, and basil as the base for salads, instead of simply as a garnish.
- Marinate meats and hearty vegetables for a long period of time, i.e., 24 hours.
- Find the ideal way to cook each vegetable - oftentimes, it will be roasting vegetables in order to bring out their natural sugars/
- Make healthful food taste decadent - i.e., pair vegetables with fresh cheeses and nuts.
- Pair legumes with crunch (i.e., nuts or pomegranate seeds) and strong flavors (i.e., caramelized onions, olives, or cheese)
Now that I've gone on about my love for Ottolenghi, check out my adaptation of his fritters below. My version is vegan and paleo, so it's suitable for everyone's diet! Okay, almost everyone's diet. I serve these fritters in in a big salad or in a grain bowl, or on their own with a drizzle of tahini on top or with a side of hummus. Bon appetit!
Makes approximately 14 fritters
Paleo, Vegan, Gluten-Free
- 1 large bunch of chard (Swiss or rainbow)
- 1 bunch of Lacinato/Tuscan/dinosaur kale
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped dill
- 1/4 cup chopped basil
- 1/2 Serrano pepper or jalapeño pepper, diced
- 2 flax eggs* (or substitute eggs for a non-vegan version)
- 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 3 tablespoons of almond flour
- 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest
- 1/2 cup of cashew cheese, recipe below (or substitute feta cheese for non-vegan version)
- Olive oil or avocado oil for frying the fritters
*For one flax egg: whisk 1 tablespoon of flax meal with 2 1/2 tablespoons of water; refrigerate for 15 minutes to thicken.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the chard and kale for 5 minutes. Drain greens and dry thoroughly with paper towels or a cheesecloth. Try to get out as much water as possible - if the mixture is wet, the fritters will be crumbly and less flavorful.
- Place cooked greens with all remaining ingredients (except oil) in a food processor. Pulse until well blended.
- Heat a generous amount of olive oil or avocado oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, add 1 heaping tablespoon of the fritter batter to the pan. Add 3-4 fritters to the pan, depending on the size of the pan. Flatten the fritters a bit using the back of a spoon. Cook the fritters for 1-2 minutes on each side, flip, and cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Repeat this process with the remaining batter.
Makes approximately 1 cup
- 1 cup raw cashews (soaked for at least 2 hours or overnight)
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the consistency is that of ricotta cheese.