Pea and Feta Zaatar Fritters
I am and always have been a cookbook fan. I take pride in my collection, I reread them fairly often, and I am always finding new inspiration even from my oldest books. I know you can easily find endless recipes online, but there is still something about flipping through the pages of a book, staining the pages with sauce or cake batter and making notes in the bottom of a recipe that gets me.
Ever since I became a loyal Toronto Public Library card holder earlier this year, I have been reading tons of tons of cookbooks. Did you know the library has an amazing collection of every cookbook you can think of? The old classics, the new cool releases, everything. Since my bookshelf and kitchen counter is already toppling with cookbooks, I've been taking cookbooks out at the library instead of buying every single one I think sounds good. I currently have over 30 cookbooks on hold ready for me to read. Yep- you read that right.
I've owned Ottolenghi's Plenty More cookbook since it was first released in 2014. I still haven't made anywhere close to all the recipes. I've been intrigued by his pea and feta fritters since I first opened the book but for whatever reason never made them. In all honesty it seemed like a lot of work. Instead I've made a ton of Smitten Kitchen's corn fritters (another huge source of recipe inspo for me). They're a sure fire crowd pleasure, a perfect starter snack at a barbecue and you can get creative with little toppers or serve them as is.
I love fresh peas in the spring and summer and I wanted to enjoy my last batch of them before all the summer produce is really gone. I figured I could cross these two recipes together. Could I? I could!
Here's how it went down:
3 cups fresh peas (you could use frozen and thawed peas but give them a good drain!)
1 lemon, zested
1/2 lemon, juiced
3 T zaatar
3/4 tsp salt
a large handful of finely chopped herbs - I used chives, basil, parsley
a few good grinds of black pepper
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup all purpose flour
about 150g firm feta cheese, crumbled unevenly - I think this allows for some bits to sort of melt in while other larger chunks hold their own.
Preheat a cast iron pan over medium high heat and pour in a thin layer of cooking oil, such as canola or veg oil. I wouldn't use coconut oil here, I'm not sure I want that flavour, even sublty. You can also use a non stick pan or a flat top grill to make these. Prepare a paper towel lined tray or dish. Even better if you have a cooling rack that you can set in that tray as well.
Combine peas, lemon zest, lemon juice, zaatar, salt, herbs, and black pepper. Add eggs and break them up so they evenly coat all the peas and flavourings. Start with 1/2 cup flour and mix well. There should be a thin layer of batter coating the peas. If it seems too wet and not at all holding together, add a bit more flour. Fold in the crumbled feta.
I recommend cooking off 1 first to make sure the batter is holding together well and that you like the flavour. If it seems to be falling apart, add some more flour to the batter and try again. Once you're happy with the result, you can make multiple at a time. Avoid overcrowding the pan.
Let the fritters bind together well on the first side before flipping. If it seems like you can't flip it without breaking it apart, it's not ready to flip. They should be golden brown on each side. Some peas will roll away, just try to collect them so they don't burn in the pan as you continue cooking. Snacks for the cook!
As they cook, place the finished fritters on the cooling rack or the paper towel to blot off any excess oil.
Place on a serving dish and top with a dollop of creme fraiche, sour cream, or yogurt. I used a 10% fat plain greek yogurt. Sprinkle lime zest and zaatar on top, if you want. Happy snacking.