This week we are sharing some excellent recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi's wildly popular cookbooks. When I asked him about his own favorite lunch recipes, he noted especially how much he likes dishes that can be eaten at room temperature. Quinoa patties and fritters of all sorts are a hearty make-ahead option for a lunch eaten at any temperature, and these spiced-up bread fritters exemplify that perfectly as well.
In his introduction to this recipe from Jerusalem, Ottolenghi says, "This Tripolitan version is one among endless kinds of vegetable or herb-based bread fritters and omelets that are rife all over [Jerusalem]. This is convenience food at its best, ready to be stuffed inside a pita and put in a lunch box, or prepared as a quick “solution” for a light meal using leftover bread and seasonal vegetables. It may not sound appetizing, but taste it once, and you will see what it’s all about."
He also suggests using any other grated vegetables instead of bread, such as zucchini and sweet potato. And spice them up however you like: "Tunisians, for instance, add chopped mint and crushed garlic."
So delicious for lunch — and, as a bonus, a great way to use up leftover bread!
I loved the comforting feeling that these bread fritters gave me! They were so delicious and easy to make, especially when I realized I had forgotten to get ground cumin and we subbed in whole cumin seeds instead.
I only had large eggs so used them instead of the extra-large eggs with great results. The batter may seem runny when you make it, but trust me, it firms up as it's cooking into tender, fluffy pancakes. It's a great way to turn stale bread into a side dish or light lunch.
- Christine, May 2015
A'ja (Bread Fritters)
4 white bread slices, crusts removed (3 ounces in total)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 ounce chives, chopped
1 ounce flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/3 ounce tarragon, chopped
1 1/2 ounce feta cheese, crumbled
Sunflower oil, for frying
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Soak the bread in plenty of cold water for 1 minute, then squeeze well.
Crumble the soaked bread into a medium bowl, then add the eggs, spices, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and whisk well. Mix in the chopped herbs and feta.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the mixture into the center of the pan for each fritter and flatten it using the underside of the spoon; the fritters should be 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches thick. Fry the fritters for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Repeat with the remaining batter. You should get about 8 fritters.
Alternatively, you can fry all the batter at once, as you would a large omelet. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature.
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Reprinted with permission from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.