Vegetarian golden nuggets
You may recall an entry on the popular Greek bean soup (fasolada) I posted some time ago. This traditional staple shows our love for legumes and pulses, especially during the Lent and the run up to Orthodox Easter. A few brave ones give up meat and dairy for 40 days, while the rest do it for a week or two swapping meat protein for the protein found in the humble dry beans. Here is a recipe for “golden fritters”; yummy deep-fried patties made with Vanilla Feneou beans.
Head straight to the recipe
The growing of dry beans is mostly popular in the north, especially around the two neighbouring lakes of Prespa and the rural area around the city of Kastoria. The extremely fertile soil near the lakes produces several popular bean varieties, such as butter beans (or “giant” beans as we Greeks call them), the versatile Cannellini beans (the ones I used in fasolada) and a few other less-known local varieties used in casseroles and bakes (see black-eyed beans, or cranberry beans in my mushroom & carrot bake)
But for my extra special fritters, I chose the Vanilla Feneou variety, for which I headed south this time, to the Peloponnese region and the fertile fields around Lake Doxa. This is where the Vanilla Feneou beans are grown. These beans are so special that the local growers have registered this unique variety for Protected Geographical Indication status.
What is so special about this bean? It is tiny, pearly white and it gets lots of points due to its unique flavour. The sweet taste of the vanilia beans along with their thin, soft skins have made it a favourite long before the PGI. Unlike other beans of the family, they are very easy to cook with minimal soaking. What’s not to like?
Greeks love their deep-fried balls and patties: from keftedes (fried aromatic meat balls) to vegetarian burgers (with chick peas or mushed vegetables). My grandma made them frequently as a main (the perfect lunch with fresh Greek salad and a glass of wine) or as a mezze dipped abundantly in cool and refreshing tzatziki. The smell from nana’s kitchen was divine! For my bean fritters I use a lot of fresh parsley, the perfect match for the yoghurt dip spiced with a bit of cumin. A match made in heaven! Here’s what you need:
for the bean fritters (45-50 pieces)
- 300 gr of beans
- 2-3 spring onions, finely chopped
- 6-7 sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon of cumin
- a bit of salt and peppervegetable oil for frying
For the dip
- 250 gr of Greek yoghurt
- ½ tablespoon of cumin
- ½ tablespoon of paprika
- ½ tablespoon of lemon juice
- ½ tablespoon of vinegar
- ½ tablespoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- freshly ground pepper
What to do:
For the bean fritters
- Boil the beans until soft.
- Pass them through a food processor for a couple of minutes or mash with a fork.
- In a large bowl, add the cumin, finely chopped parsley, spring onion, the egg beaten and season with salt and pepper.
- Mix well and let the mixture stand in the fridge, 30 minutes minimum.
- Shape into small balls and ready the oil for frying.
- Fry for 2-3 minutes each side, remember not to crowd your frying pan.
- Rest in absorbing kitchen towel to soak up any extra oil.
For the dip
Place the yoghurt in a bowl and add the olive oil, cumin, paprika, lemon juice, vinegar and of course salt and pepper.
From Athens with love
Many thanks to the company Dikotylon for kindly offering me their organically produced Vanilla Feneou beans.