Sunday, February 28, 2010

What is a fritter anyways?


This week I was inspired by The Last Resort, an excellent restaurant in downtown Athens whose lunch specials are to die for. Their Greek inspired Orzo is packed with flavor, and although my attempted recreation was not quite as good, it was certainly tasting and filling! Because I enjoy a nice glass of champagne to make life seem a bit more sparkly, I used champagne instead of dry white wine to deglaze the pan.

Champagne Orzo with Fried Capers
serves 6-8
8oz. dry orzo
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup diced red onion
10 to 12 pitted kalamata olives, halved
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine 
6 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
4 Tbsp crumbled feta
4 Tbsp chopped pepperoncini 
4 Tbsp capers, fried

Instructions

  1. To fry the capers, in a small pan, heat oil. White it heats up, spread the capers on a paper towel to drain. When it's hot, add the capers. Cook until the buds open and the capers are crispy, 30 seconds to 4 minutes. Set aside on a paper towel to drain.
  2. Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil. 
  3. Once it's rapidly boiling (very important!) add the orzo and cook until al dente. Be sure not to over cook as they will become gummy.
  4. Add more olive oil to the pan and saute the onion and olives. 
  5. When the onion is soft and translucent, add the garlic and immediately deglaze the pan with the champagne.
  6. Add the tomatoes and toss to heat through.
  7. Add the drained pasta and stir. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the pasta has absorbed any excess liquid. Remove from heat.
  8. To serve, top each serving with feta, chopped pepperoncini and fried capers. 

To serve with my orzo, I made some chickpea fritters which turned out to complement the dish superbly. Mixing the fritters into the orzo tasted delicious. Even snacking on cold leftover fritters the next day was shockingly wonderful. Chickpea fritters are one of my new favorite foods. It's strange to think these chickpea fritters are somehow akin to apple fritters, but I guess I had just never considered the fact that a fritter is simply anything fried.

Chickpea Fritters with Sesame Seeds

1 16 oz. can chickpeas
1-2 large eggs
1/2 a  small  red  onion finely chopped
1 red bell pepper,  finely chopped
1  tsp. ground cumin
1/2  tsp. salt
4-5  Tbsp bread crumbs
1/2 cup raw sesame seeds
olive oil

Instructions
  1. Rinse and  drain  the  chickpeas
  2. Mash the chickpeas (I used a potato masher) until you  have  a coarse  pulp
  3. Add 1 egg and whisk
  4. Add the onion, pepper, cumin and salt
  5. Mix  in the breadcrumbs, adding  more if mixture is too wet. If the mixture is too dry, add the 2nd egg.
  6. Form into balls  (the size  of a small  handful)  and  press into the sesame seeds
  7. Fry in about 1″ of olive oil  over  medium heat  until  sesame seeds  are a deep golden on both sides
  8. Drain on paper towels, then serve.
 

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