These unbelievable delicious traditional Greek zucchini patties are made with plenty of herbs and feta and are so easy to make.
Zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables, and that is probably not a popular choice, I know. But, hold on, in Greek cuisine they are somehow transformed from a watery tasteless vegetable to a delicious meal or appetizer. The secret lies in the ingredients and the method of cooking: roasting with tomato like they do in Crete, or in the famous Briami where they are roasted in olive oil along with potatoes, eggplant and tomatoes, with phyllo in a delicious zucchini pie and of course fried. I find that for an appetizer zucchini is best fried. Of the most popular appetizers ordered among Greeks are fried zucchini chips (tiganita kolokithakia) and zucchini fritters (kolokithokeftedes).
A Word About Frying
Frying is often looked down upon. Certain fried foods have been linked with heart disease and diabetes. Pan frying is pretty common in the Mediterranean, some reasons for this include: abundance of olive oil, flavor, ease (quick cooking process) and the fact that many homes did not have ovens and stovetop cooking was the main type of cooking.
There are 3 factors we need to take into account when it comes to assessing how healthy or unhealthy is a fried food:
1. Deep- Fried versus Pan-fried: Pan-fried is healthier because it uses less oil and reaches a lower temperature.
2. Type of Oil: The typical seed oils often used in frying because of their lower price and ability to be used over and over again are the unhealthiest as they contain higher omega-6 levels which are associated with inflammation. Olive oil on the other hand is rich in monounsaturated fats and more importantly high in antioxidants which resists oxidation at high heat. In addition, studies have shown that when vegetables are fried in olive oil they actually absorb some of the antioxidants in the olive oil.
3. Type of Food: Obviously breaded chicken nuggets, jalapeno poppers and the like are unhealthier than fried zucchini or eggplant.
Finally, I would like to mention a study that can clarify this even more. A large study that included 40000 Spaniards, found that there was no association between eating fried food and coronary heart disease, as long as the food was fried in olive oil, the olive oil had not been re-used and the participants were following a Mediterranean diet. Under those circumstances frying can be an occasional part of a healthy Mediterranean Diet. Now back to those zucchini fritters…
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