Feather Fritters with squash “spaghetti” and tomato sauce

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by: B&B Wife






If l called these “meatless meatballs,” they would sound so earnestly vegetarian that you’d probably pass right over them. But this is exactly what they are—airy bread-based morsels that derive from the cucina povera of Italy. I’ve had them in Puglia as appetizers—large, light, and deep-fried—but here I’ve made smaller spheres into a main dish, which includes a tomato sauce and spaghetti-like strands of winter squash. A wonderful rakelike tool made by Kuhn Rikon enables you to pull strands of squash off any of the delicious varieties of winter squash by dragging it over the peeled, uncooked flesh. If you don’t have one of these gadgets, be sure to use spaghetti squash, which you can pull into strands with a fork. You have to play with your ingredients to end up with a mixture that can be molded loosely into a ball. Bread that’s bone dry will absorb a lot more milk than fresher bread. What’s important is to use bread that has a strong crumb, or your fritters will be mushy. As for the tomato sauce, it can be either the quick or the long-simmered variety, both made from fresh tomatoes. If fresh is out of the question, know that you can also make a pretty good last-minute sauce using canned tomatoes, as here. Pureed squash, actual spaghetti squash, and greens also make good accompaniments to these flavor-filled spheres. To drink, stay in the region and have Primitivo or go to Sonoma for a Zinfandel.




ingredients

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serves: 6

4 slices thick stale country bread (about 1/2 pound with the crusts removed)

1/2-1 cup milk or more as needed

2 tablespoons chopped marjoram or oregano

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 clove garlic

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup finely diced onion or shallot

1-2 eggs, as needed

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

olive oil for frying

8 cups winter squash strands

Five-Minute Tomato Sauce

minced parsley or oregano for garnish

Nutrition Facts
Feather Fritters with squash “spaghetti” and tomato sauce

Servings Per Recipe: 6

Amount per Serving

Calories: 628

  • Total Fat: 17.3 g
  •     Saturated Fat: 8.2 g
  •     Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 65.7 mg
  • Sodium: 1106.2 mg
  • Total Carbs: 89.6 g
  •     Dietary Fiber: 8.2 g
  •     Sugars: 12.8 g
  • Protein: 30.9 g
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preparation

1.  Put the bread in a pie plate and pour the milk over it. If it’s on the soft side, use little milk; if it’s hard, use more. While you're chopping everything else, return to the bread now and then and move it around, squeezing the wet pieces over the drier ones. When all the bread is soft, squeeze out the excess milk. Put it in a food processor and pulse just enough to break it up into coarse crumbs, then turn it into a bowl.

2.  Chop the herbs with the garlic and add them to the bread along with the cheeses, onion, and 1 egg. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and plenty of pepper. Mix everything together—your hands are the best tool—then fry a little batter in some olive oil until golden and taste it for salt. You'll also be able to tell if it’s too dry (add another egg) or too wet (add more dried bread crumbs). Shape the dough into spheres or ovals, using about 2 teaspoons for each.

3.  Film a cast-iron or nonstick skillet with olive oil. When hot, add the morsels, taking care not to crowd them, and cook over medium heat, shuffling the pan frequently so that all the surfaces brown.

4.  Just before serving, drop the squash strands into boiling salted water and cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Strain, then toss the strands with a little butter or olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

5.  To serve, nap each plate with tomato sauce, heap the "spaghetti" over it, add the fritters, and garnish with a little minced parsley.

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arlene

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