Deliciously warming pumpkin fritters with feta cheese and chili flakes.
A few weeks ago, he returned. Güncü Osman, my pumpkin guy at the weekly market, had been absent since spring. Unlike many of the other traders, who effortlessly adjust their offer to the seasons, Güncü Osman only sells pumpkins. If pumpkins aren’t in season, he’s simply not there.
But now he is. Which means there’s a lot of pumpkin cooking happening in my kitchen. Because Güncü Osman’s pumpkins aren’t just tasty. He peels them, cuts them and puts them in a convenient bag, so I don’t have to do anything but place it in the fridge and figure out what to cook with it when I come home. The convenience of supermarkets, but the freshness and quality you can only find at markets.
One of my favourite things to make with Güncü Osman’s pumpkins are fritters. Soft on the inside, with a slight crust on the outside and full of flavours. This is comfort food, perfect for the when the sun sets far too early in the afternoon. It also happens to be very simple and quick to make.
You can use any kind of pumpkin for this. I’ve not tried it, but sweet potato should also work really well. I roast the pumpkin, for extra flavour. If using butternut squash you can even roast it whole. Use any excess pumpkin to make soup. Or more fritters!
Green lentils and a tomato and pomegranate salad would work well alongside, but anything wholesome and slightly tangy (to balance the sweetness and slight spiciness of the fritters) would work. Yields 15-20 small fritters, enough for 3 or 4 portions.
- 650 g pumpkin or sweet potato (c. 550 g roasted weight), cut into chunks
- 130 g (5 generous tbsp) white flour
- 50 g feta cheese, crumbled
- 0.5 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp dill
- 2 tsp Turkish chili flakes (pul biber/Aleppo pepper) or 0.5 tsp regular chili flakes
- 0.25 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 2 eggs
- salt and pepper
- olive oil and sunflower oil, for roasting and frying
- a small handful fresh sage (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 220 C (430 F).
- Mix the pieces of pumpkin with a little olive oil. Transfer to a roasting pan and cover with foil. Roast until completely soft, anything from half an hour to an hour or more, depending on the size of your pumpkin chunks. If using butternut squash, you can roast it whole. The skin is edible after roasting, but you may discard it if you like. Set aside to cool a little.
- Add the pumpkin to a bowl. Mash with a fork. Add the other ingredients one by one and keep mixing and mashing until you have a thick batter. Season, keeping in mind the cheese also adds saltiness.
- Heat a generous amount of oil in a thick-based frying pan over medium heat. I use around 3-4 tbsp sunflower oil and 1 tbsp olive oil.
- If you have time, fry a test fritter to check for seasoning and texture. The water contents of pumpkin after roasting may vary, so if the batter is too soft, add a little more flour.
- Use a tablespoon to add batter to the pan. Fry the fritters until the underside is nicely coloured, 2-3 minutes. Flip and fry until golden all over and cooked through, a couple of minutes more. Transfer to a plate covered with kitchen towels to drain off excess oil.
- After adding the last fritter to the pan, add a handful of sage leaves. Fry until crispy but not burnt, a couple of minutes. Serve immediately.