It is safe to say that fritters might be the most versatile and homely meal ever. We have eaten these hot, cold, had for lunch, dinner, breakfast and snacks. They have been to a 6-year-old birthday party and a picnic.
Maybe 2 weeks ago now, we mentioned on Instagram that we had an abundance of leeks ready to harvest, enough to “feed a village” were my exact words, and that we needed to use them up yesterday.
In my opinion, leeks are a too often forgotten about and under-celebrated vegetable, and I got the sense many of you agreed! The popular opinion seemed to be that leek fritters are the way to go, so we thought we would take your suggestion and run with it.
It’s slightly hard to cook in our kitchen right now – everything is half installed, there is a wall out, running water is intermittent and the stove top is temporary. Amongst the chaos, these have provided heaps of easy meals!
The first time you make these, you might feel as though the beating of the egg whites seems somewhat complicated – but once you have made this recipe once, you will sort out your own system for making them, and they will be super easy.
Matt describes these as having "a pretty texture”. And he is right. They are light in texture, super vegetables heavy, and the combination doesn't overpower the flavour of the humble leek! They are full of protein, gluten-free and vegetarian.
We have been making a meal from them by adding extra cooked vegetables, some sautéed greens, grated beetroot and even a fried egg. Use what you have around the house or in the garden, to make it an easy meal.
On growing leeks
If you do it right you can quite easily have fresh leeks to harvest all-year. We've found leeks are best planted in spring, direct from seed, and then again in autumn, with the same method. Plant them in a shallow furrow, in a few little (or long!) rows, trying not to sow the seeds too thickly. But if you do, leeks are super simple to thin out when they are finger thick, a very delicious stage of growth for them! Brush the soil back over the seeds and water the freshly sown row in with one good soak, then keep it moist with a light watering each day until you see the first seedlings appear. Keep up regular watering from this point, but they'll be hardier now they have a little tap root.
Your first spring-planted leeks will be ready to harvest as finger thick baby leeks in early-mid summer, and the harvest will continue happily pretty much until the following spring if you planted enough, at which point they will begin to shoot to flower (they make big, beautiful pale purple-coloured flowers, that are amazing to look at and garnish your dishes with).
Your autumn-planted leeks are your backups for when your spring planted leeks have given up and reached this flowering stage. They should get you through until your next spring-planted baby leeks are ready again.
Leeks left in the ground past the flowering stage will set seed, which you can easily save for your next planting (cut the heads whole then shake the seeds free into a bag)! Just don't leave them too long or they'll drop that seed everywhere and your next-season garden will be a leek fiesta like ours right now (could be worse).
Leeks also grow great when transplanted as young seedlings. Let seedlings get to at least 15 cm before planting them about 10 cm apart. Bury the young seedlings half their length deep into the soil for a nice long white base at harvest time. You can get a longer white section my mounding earth or straw up around your leeks as they grow too. Happy harvest.
Makes about 20 fritters (Serves 4-6) // Time 35-45 minutes
500g (about 4) trimmed leeks, cut into 1cm slices
200g (1 medium) brown onion, diced
100g (about 2 packed cups) spinach *(See note)
2 egg whites (yolks set aside)
1/2 teaspoon good salt
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
2 egg yolks (from part 1 eggs)
170g (3/4 cup) cottage OR ricotta cheese
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
120g chickpea (gram) flour
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 teaspoon unpasteurised honey
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 cup natural yoghurt (don’t forget, we have a guide on how to make yoghurt here)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 clove garlic, crushed (optional)
This recipe requires THREE BOWLS! I know.
In a large frying pan, over medium heat, add a big splash of olive oil and sauté leeks and onion for about 12-15 minutes, until they are just starting to brown and soften (note: cover and add a splash of water to help soften). In the last 2 minutes, throw the spinach in to wilt.
While the leek mixture is cooking, in a medium mixing bowl add egg whites (don’t forget to set aside the egg yolks) and salt and beat until peaks form. Set aside.
Once leek mixture has finished cooking, place into a bowl, add garlic, oregano and pepper and place in the fridge to cool.
Set pan aside for frying the fritters later.
In a large mixing bowl, add all part two ingredients and whisk until well combined. The mixture should be really thick, and slightly bubbly, like a thick pancake batter, with a few lumps from the cheese.
Then add the vegetable mixture (which should be cooled by now), to the batter.
Finally, fold the egg whites into the mixture very gently.
Heat your large fry pan over medium heat again (medium heat is key, if it's too hot, it will burn before cooking through). Add a big splash of olive oil, and with a tablespoon spoon the mixture in to form fritters. Cover with a lid and fry fritters for a few minutes on each side, until just brown and crisp. Note: 1 tablespoon, should make a fritter about 5 cm in diameter.
Place between plates to keep warm. When ready to serve, place sauce ingredients into a jar, shake and serve as a dipping sauce.
Serve warm or cold.
We served these here with sautéed chard, oyster mushrooms and fresh parsley from the garden.
*We also substitute this with wild mallow. What's mallow?
Herbs and spices, such as chilli, parsley and coriander would all work well in this too!
P.S. Coming soon! New products to our online store - that are sustainable, practical and everyday needs focused! Hand-picked (and sometimes even designed exclusively!) by us.