Sometimes there are people who impress you with their strength.
Sometimes they impress with their problem-solving skills.
Sometimes it’s their sheer force of will.
And sometimes, it’s the size of their heart that pulls all of these attributes together and takes an ordinary person to extraordinary. Chef Jose Andres is one of those people.
Well known for his skills in the kitchen and avant-garde cooking style using molecular gastronomy, Jose Andres evolved from Michelin starred chef to feeding millions of people after natural disasters. When the U.S. government couldn’t figure out how to its feed people after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, he did, using his organization World Central Kitchen to cook and distribute 3.5 million meals all over the island.
WCK has been doing this since the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti and has fed people all over the world and in the US (besides Puerto Rico, after they fed people after the wildfires in California and the hurricane in Texas, among others). There’s been a rumor of a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.
I didn’t know any of this when I visited his restaurant Zaytinya last year in Washington DC. All I knew was that he was a respected chef with a great reputation and dozens of restaurants scattered all over the country. Zaytinya focuses on a diverse selection of Eastern Mediterranian inspired comfort food in a sharable plate, mezze style. There are no foams or nitrogen frozen bubbles here, simply solid cooking.
My mother and I arrived at lunchtime with no reservations and were seated at the bar. We enjoyed every bit of the meal, from the attentive service to the rose wine from Greece to the selection of small plates we ordered. One of the brightest standouts were the zucchini fritters and I knew I was going to have to recreate them and I did.
This dish takes a bit of prep work, but it’s worth the effort. It’s very flexible and can be served as an appetizer (try two per person), as a side dish, or even as a vegetarian main course. It’s best served hot, but also works at room temperature. If you grow zucchini in a home garden, I’m certain you will add this dish to your rotation.
Zucchini and Feta Fritters with Yogurt Caper Sauce
A recipe for Zucchini and Feta Fritters with Yogurt Caper Sauce, based on a dish at the Jose Andres restaurant, Zaytinya.
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Mediterranean
Keyword: fritter, zucchini
Servings: 18each, 2 ounce Fritters
For the Fritters
3poundsfresh zucchinicleaned and grated (about 8 cups raw)
1ouncechopped green onion
¼ouncefresh flat leaf parsleychopped
3ouncesfeta cheesegrated or crumbled
6eachegg whitesstiffly beaten
¼tspfreshly ground black pepper
For the Sauce
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepperto taste
Wash the zucchini, cut off the ends, and grate on a box grater in the largest holes (on in a cuisinart), leaving the skin on.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch the grated zucchini for about 30 seconds. Drain and cool on a sheet pan. When cool, place the blanched zucchini in a clean cotton dish towel and squeeze out the excess moisture. You should be left with about 4 cups of zucchini.
Beat the egg whites on high until stiff peaks form.
Combine the blanched zucchini, chopped herbs, green onion, and feta cheese in a large bowl.
Sprinkle in the flour and breadcrumbs and fold in.
Fold in the whipped egg whites until just incorporated and then season with salt and pepper. The mixture will be wet.