Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Feta fetish - Courgette, feta and potato cakes

I have just realised that at least three of my recent posts have included feta cheese.
Traditionally a Greek cheese, the Greek word "feta" coming from the Italian word feta meaning slice, which you will understand when you see it.

Unfortunately it seems that this delicious cheese, because of its popularity, is being factory produced on an ever increasing scale.  It is no surprise that Marks & Spencer stock a lot of it, and it is arguably good.  I dream of travelling Greece to try the traditional hand-made variety, production of which sounds by all accounts to be dying out rapidly, meaning I had better get a move on!

For those of you who are not familiar it is a salty, fresh and very white cheese, which crumbles or cuts very well into salads or for stuffed vegetables, like tomatoes or roasted peppers.  It is packaged normally in either whey or brine. 

This is a combination of several recipes which I have been eyeing up for some time - Courgette, feta and potato cakes.  Some of the recipes call for gram(chickpea) flour but this one is more simple.  These were delicious and you can make them in advance ready for cooking whenever you need them.

You will need:

3 organic courgettes
6 potatoes, Desiree are good as they are equally floury as waxy
1 large bunch fresh mint, finely chopped
2 large eggs beaten
150g feta cheese
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
lemon wedges to serve

With your ever useful box grater, roughly grate the courgette.
Place in a colander, sprinkle with a few generous pinches of sea salt and let it drain for at least one hour.  A lovely green sap will emerge (this probably contains vital minerals).

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes with the skin on until they are just firm to the point of a knife.  Do not let them get too soft or they will not grate successfully.
When they are cool enough to touch, peel and using the grater, grate and leave to cool completely.

When an hour has expired, rinse the courgettes under cold water to remove the salt and squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can from them.

Note, if the courgettes are still very wet, or you have difficulty squeezing the liquid out of them, spread them out in a clean, dry tea towel and twist to remove as much excess water as possible. 
In a bowl, combine the courgette with the grated potatoes, crumbled feta, chopped mint and 2 beaten eggs.  Using a wooden spoon, ensure that everything is thoroughly mixed.

Using your hands(the messy part), make small rounded cakes, patting them finally into a floured plate on either side.

At this point, you can store these as they are in the fridge for 24 hours until you need them.

I tried both oven frying them and pan frying them this evening and I found that for two people it is more successful frying them in the pan.  The batch which I cooked in the oven infuriatingly stuck to the bottom of  the tray despite an oil and butter lubrication on the bottom.
So for the final batch I pan fried them and served them with a thick lemon wedge.  They were delicious.  Perhaps a little labour intensive for a mid-week meal for two but perfect for a slightly different side dish of lamb for the weekend.  They would also be delicious dipped into a thinned natural yoghurt with fresh mint.

the oven baked variety

the pan fried variety

I really like these, and if you are organised they can be made in advance and just fried on the pan to order.


  1. I am a novice cook and followed your instructions to the letter.

    Unfortunately my mixture turned into a soggy mess.

    I don't think we should rinse the courgettes under cold water anymore. The courgettes absorbed the water no matter how hard you tried to squeeze them dry afterwards

  2. Dear Janice,

    Firstly I am really sorry to hear that the courgettes did not work out for you.

    I grated the courgettes straight into the colander and a lot of liquid did seep out of them over the hour just sitting there. I did rinse them and then squeezed the water out, I get your point and it was a lot of hard work to effectively remove as much of the water as possible.

    I have done this previously by then spreading the cougettes into a tea towel and twisting it to remove the excess water - this is quite effective.

    I apologise that I did not put this tip on the blog and I will do so now.