I rarely eat anything fried. But two or three times a year I do make exceptions. Once a year, right after Halloween, my family and I take our jack-o-lantern and make it into one of our favorite Greek appetizers, kolokithokeftedes, otherwise known in English as pumpkin patties or pumpkin fritters. It’s not healthy to eat fried food every day, but every once-in-a-while frying something in olive oil, canola oil, or other healthy oils will not kill you. It’s all about balance. The ingredients in these pumpkin patties are all healthy and fresh, and that is the key. Pumpkin is a cancer fighter, olive oil is loaded with omega-3-fatty acids, and the herbs and spices in these each have their own nutritional and medicinal benefits.
- 6 – 8 cups Gratted Pumpkin
- Approx. 1 tsp. Salt and 1/4 tsp. Pepper (or to taste)
Let stand for about one hour, squeeze and drain out juice. Place strained grated pumpkin in a large bowl and add the following ingredients.
- 1 Large finely grated onion
- 2 Large garlic cloves minced
- 1 Tsp. Cumin
- 4 Tbsp. Chopped fresh parsley
- ½ Tsp. Dry mint (Can also use fresh mint)
- 2 Eggs
- ¼ Cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 – 3 Cups of Whole wheat bread crumbs (depending on how much pumpkin you use and how much moisture is squeezed out. Start with ½ cup at a time until texture is not too wet.)
Mix all the ingredients with your hands so they are all well combined.
- Pan of flour flour for dredging patties.
- Oil for frying – I combine olive oil with canola oil. Enough oil so that almost half of each patty is surrounded by oil.
Roll pumpkin mixture into balls (approx. baseball size), then roll in flour. Leave on a plate and only flatten to ½ inch thickness before frying.
- Heat oil in a pan. Fry until deep golden color.
- Let them drain on a cookie sheet/plate covered with paper towel.
Makes approx. 15 patties/fritters if you use 6 cups pumpkin.
Thank you to my mother, Totoula, for giving me this family recipe. (She normally makes larger batches for the whole family to enjoy for a few days.) I don’t mind eating them cold the next day either.
In Greece you will often find kolokithokeftedes on a restaurant menu all year round, but note that they will substitute it for the most accessible squash of the season or region. Zucchini is very commonly used in the spring and summer, but just as tasty. You can swap the pumpkin in this recipe for zucchini for sure. I’ve not tried other types of squash, but I can’t imagine the taste or consistency will make a huge difference. The key is squeezing out as much juice as possible before combining with the other ingredients.