The Fried Zucchini Fritters That Will Start Your Greek Dinner Off Right

The sun-kissed streets of Greece are more than just bustling noises and a vibrant atmosphere. They're also home to some of the country's best culinary creations. Unsurprisingly, Greece's street food has captured the hearts of not only locals but also food aficionados everywhere. For those who love familiar classics like gyro, souvlaki, spanakopita, or falafel and want to branch out just a bit, you may find kolokithokeftedes (otherwise known as Greek zucchini fritters) to be right up your alley.

Kolokithokeftedes originate from Crete — the largest island in Greece — but you can find them at almost any street vendor, restaurant, diner, or home kitchen across the country. They're made from grated zucchini, herbs, aromatics, and feta cheese all bound together by eggs, flour, and breadcrumbs. The mixture is then deep-fried until golden brown, with a perfect contrast of a crispy exterior and tender interior. The texture alone isn't the reason why kolokithokeftedes are so beloved. They offer a verdant freshness that's made more intricate by the herbs and aromatics' fragrances. With feta cheese crumbles in the mix, you may also detect subtly tangy, creamy hints peeking through. Each bite strikes the perfect balance between flavorful and delicate — just enough to stimulate the palate without completely overwhelming it.

What else is so good about kolokithokeftedes?

While the traditional kolokithokeftedes hold an undeniable charm, part of this Greek delicacy's beauty also lies in its versatility. Zucchini isn't the only vegetable that can go into these fritters. You can also add carrots, corn, potatoes, bell peppers, or even beets for a pop of color. The same thing goes for spices. If you like this dish to be more robust, sprinkle in some cumin, paprika, garlic powder, nutmeg, or chili flakes when you're mixing the batter. Some recipes also include a splash of ouzo, which is a Greek aperitif with anise and licorice-like notes. It laces these zucchini fritters with a captivatingly warm undertone.

Although not compulsory, kolokithokeftedes tend to taste better when accompanied by a dipping sauce. The classic, foolproof choices are tzatziki and Greek yogurt, but feel free to make your own concoction. You can use the leftover herbs and aromatics by mixing them with honey and olive oil for a tantalizing sauce that ties right in with the fritters. For a spike of zesty brightness, a lemon-dill sauce is fantastic. Or, you could even try tahini, hummus, or chili sauce.