It's almost impossible not to notice the giant displays of colourful gourds in every grocery store this time of year. Their knobby, warped looks remind me of cantankerous old men. They stare at me cynically, knowing I'm never sure what to make of them, or with them, more accurately. In my farmers market box a few weeks ago I was given a Delicata squash. I only know the name thanks to Google. Slightly bigger than a large yam, this Delicata is cream coloured with dark green ribs running horizontally. He spent a week sitting on my counter and another week in my fridge. I figured it was about time his little grumpy gourd life served a purpose. Inspired by a recipe from Healthy Happy Life, Mr. Grumpy Gourd joined some chickpeas and became a fritter.
These fritters are super soft, sweet from the squash, crispy from the panko and mildly spicy from the cayenne. The smoked paprika adds a wintery warmth while the kale adds delicate flecks of vibrant green. I hesitate to call these healthy, only because I usually associate healthy food with food that doesn't taste great. These taste great.
The preserved lemon aioli brings a brings a bright tang to the table. If you've never made aioli before, fear not, it is very very easy to make. You can start it when you put the fritters in the pan, and you'll be finished before they are ready. If it's your first time making an aioli, and you're feeling a little unsure, make it first so the fritters don't accidentally burn while you're concentrating on whipping egg yolks and oil into velvet.
You can make a lot of substitutions with these fritters, and they'll turn out each time. Any squash can be used or replaced with canned pumpkin or even a sweet potato or yam. Spinach or chard would work in place of the kale and sunflower, hemp or even chai seeds can replace the sesame seeds. While I ate these for dinner, I can envision them made into bite-sized fritters and topped with a touch of the preserved lemon aioli and served at a party.
- 1 1/2 cups squash or pumpkin (either canned or roasted)
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas (or use 1 can)
- 1 egg
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 kale leaves, core removed and finely chopped
- 1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
- Salt to taste
- Breadcrumbs or panko
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Rind from half a lemon, finely grated and chopped
- Grapeseed or other neutral flavoured oil
- Optional: 1/2 preserved lemon, finely chopped
- Remove eggs from fridge and set aside
- Add chickpeas, squash, egg and apple cider vinegar to a food processor and process till smooth
- Add garlic, kale, sesame seeds, smoked paprika, cayenne and salt and process till combined
- Form 8 small patties and coat in breadcrumbs or panko. Fry in a pan, turning once, till golden on each side
- Place room temperature egg yolks in a small bowl
- Add lemon juice
- Slowly add oil in a small stream, whisking continuously. It may be necessary to stop drizzling oil momentarily while you whisk to combine the two. Once the aioli is thick and you have your desired amount, stop adding oil.
- Stir in lemon rind, salt and the optional preserved lemons
If you don’t have a food processor, use a potato masher to combine the chickpeas and pumpkin. The result will be chunkier. When making the aioli make sure the egg yolks are at room temperature and be sure to add the lemon juice before the oil. Cold yolks + no lemon juice = aioli that won’t thicken. I know from experience These can easily be made a day ahead and refrigerated till you are ready to fry them. The leftover aioli, in the unlikely event that you have any, will last in your fridge for up to 3 days. If the fritters are a little too moist, add some more breadcrumbs. If they seem too dry, add an extra egg.
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