SQUASH AND FENNEL FRITTERS
Seasonal Spanish Food
by Jose Pizarro
You can use any dense-flesh variety of winter squash for this recipe, such as butternut or spaghetti. Also, there is no need to remove the peel.
Serves 6 as an appetizer
· 2 medium winter squash (approx. 1lb)
· 2 fennel bulbs
· 1 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
· 2 large free-range eggs, beaten
· olive oil, for frying
Halve the squash and scoop out the seeds. Cut the pieces in half again, and then slice across the segment to give 1/8 in thick slices. Trim the base of the fennel bulbs, taking off only a minimal amount. Halve each bulb, then thinly slice each piece lengthwise: the leaves should remain attached to the base to create a kind of fan-shape slice.
Put the flour in one bowl, and the beaten eggs in another. Pour a generous quantity of olive oil into a frying pan (it should be about 1/8 in deep), and heat over medium to high heat until the oil shimmers.
Dunk the vegetables slices first in the flour and then the beaten egg—and then slide several at a time into the oil. When the underside of a slice is golden, which will take 1 to 2 minutes, flip it over. Continue cooking for 1 more minute.
You will need to cook the squash and fennel in batches: drain the slices on paper towels after removing them from the oil, then place them in a warm oven while you cook the rest.
Serve immediately with mojo de cilantro.
MOJO DE CILANTRO
This salsa or dip is popular in the Canary Islands. If you substitute the fresh cilantro with parsley, it becomes mojo verde. Make it a couple of hours before you want to use it, to give the flavors a chance to develop. This recipe comes from my friend Miguel, who in turn got it from his grandmother. She insists that the only way to make this mojo is with a pestle and mortar. You can use less garlic if you prefer.
· 3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
· 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
· large bunch of cilantro, leaves only
· 1 green chile, seeded and chopped
· 1 teaspoon ground cumin
· 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
· 1 tablespoon Moscatel or other white wine vinegar
Pound the garlic and salt together with a pestle and mortar. Once the garlic is reduced to a paste, add the cilantro and continue to crush the herb into the mixture until you have a mash. Add the chile and cumin and bash it into the mixture; then, slowly add the oil, pounding all the while, until you have a smooth sauce. The vinegar will eventually darken the vibrant green color of the mojo, so stir it in just before serving.