It was quite challenging figuring out what to call this recipe in English. The literal translation from Greek is squash meatballs, but that sounds weird. We thought about squash fritters, but since there is no battering or frying involved, that didn’t seem right. We toyed with squash pancakes, squash pitas, squash and stuff, and finally settled on baked squash fritters because, frankly, we got tired of thinking.
Whatever you call them (you can always try ko-lo-kee-tho-keftedes, which is the phonetic English spelling of κολοκυθοκεφτέδες 🙂 ), you will definitely love them. These little morsels are a great way to get vegetables into your diet and your belly. Because they are baked and not fried, you can pop them into your mouth freely and recklessly, knowing that they are nothing but good for you.
There are many, many variations of squash fritters out there, and in fact, our parents make several different types. You can bake them, fry them, add cheese, play around with the fresh herbs.; the possibilities are truly endless. One thing that will make a huge difference in each recipe is, of course, the squash which is used.
Squash are the fruit (yes, fruit!) of various members of the gourd family, and are divided into two large categories: winter squash and summer squash. Don’t let the names confuse you; both types of squash can usually be found any time of year. What you do need to know is that this recipe calls for winter squash. These are the gourds which have flesh which ranges from golden yellow to deep golden orange and whose skin is typically tough. The more delicate zucchini is an example of a summer squash; zucchini make great baked fritters too, but that’s for another day.
In this recipe our parents used the flesh of a beautiful orange squash which they grew themselves. When they first bought their home, the yard was average sized (meaning, pretty small) but there was a vast amount of land beyond their lot which was owned, and pretty much abandoned, by the city. A few phone calls later and a deal was struck to purchase the land, and the future home of their amazing garden. We can’t wait until the summer to
show it off showcase it to you. Each year they devote a large section of their garden to squash, and each year they end up with some real beauties. We have no idea what most of these squash are called, and the one used in this recipe remains a mystery. What we do know however is that it was the most beautiful and vibrant orange colour. One of us loves everything orange…so this was just perfect. In any case, don’t let the fact that we can’t name the exact squash type used discourage you from trying this recipe. Our parents have also made these baked squash fritters with pumpkin and butternut squash. We think the only squash type which might not work would be spaghetti squash.
Most squash contains quite a bit of water, and removing as much water as possible is important in this recipe; this will help the baked fritters keep their shape. To prepare your squash, peel it carefully. The tough outer skin can make peeling somewhat difficult. Take your time, and watch your fingers. After you grate your squash allow it to drain in a colander set over a large bowl. The longer you let it drain, the better. You can even prepare your squash the day before, keeping it in the refrigerator. To help remove as much water as possible, set a plate over the squash and weigh it down with a heavy can or two.
When you are measuring out your squash, squeeze out any excess water with your hands and then measure out your 6 cups (1,500 mL). If you end up having less grated squash than this, simply reduce the quantity of the rest of the ingredients proportionally. If math is not your strong suit (ours either!)…don’t worry, nothing bad will happen if you mess up the quantities a little bit. Promise!
Mia Kouppa: Baked Squash Fritters
- 6 cups shredded, drained, orange-fleshed squash (like pumpkin or butternut squash)
- 1 medium onion, shredded
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup (250 mL) crumbled Greek feta
- 1/4 (62 mL) cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2/3 (167 mL) cup bread crumbs
- 1/4 (62 mL) cup finely diced parsley
- Peel and grate your squash and place it in a colander set over a large bowl to drain, at least one hour.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius).
- Take your grated squash, a handful at a time, and manually squeeze out any excess water. Place in a large bowl.
- After you have drained and squeezed as much water as possible out of your squash, mix it together with the rest of the ingredients.
- Once everything is well combined, take a heaping tablespoon of the mixture and form a ball. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and flatten slightly with your hand, or spatula so that each piece is about 1/2 inch thick.
- Bake in the middle of your oven for approximately 50 minutes or until golden brown on the underside.
- Remove pan from oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Carefully use a spatula to transfer your fritters to a serving platter. Enjoy!