Nigel’s mid­week din­ner

But­ter­nut and feta frit­ters

The Observer Magazine - - Food & Drink - Pho­to­graph JONATHAN LOVEKIN

The recipe

Peel and re­move the seeds from 300g of but­ter­nut squash. Push the squash through a spi­ral­izer to give long, thin strings. Peel 2 cloves of gar­lic and thinly slice them. Chop enough flat-leaf pars­ley to give 3 heaped tbsp. Warm a lit­tle ground­nut oil in a large, shal­low pan, then add the gar­lic, let it siz­zle for a cou­ple of min­utes then, as it starts to colour, drop in the squash and fry for 5 or 6 min­utes un­til the colours are bright and the squash is ten­der but far from fall­ing apart.

Make a bat­ter by mix­ing to­gether 2 egg yolks, 200g of feta cheese, 4 tbsp of plain flour, a grind­ing of black pep­per and 1 tbsp of chopped thyme leaves. Beat 2 egg whites un­til frothy then fold into the bat­ter. Toss the threads of but­ter­nut squash with the bat­ter.

Warm enough ground­nut oil in a deep, heavy pan to fry the frit­ters. When the oil is at 180C take a large spoon­ful of the bat­ter-coated but­ter­nut and lower into the hot oil. Re­peat with a fur­ther 3 or 4, fry­ing for 3 to 4 min­utes un­til crisp and golden in colour. As each frit­ter is ready, re­move with a drain­ing spoon and rest on kitchen pa­per. Con­tinue un­til you have 9 frit­ters. Serve hot. Serves 3.

The trick

Get the oil to the right tem­per­a­ture be­fore low­er­ing in the squash. It should mea­sure 180C on a kitchen ther­mome­ter. If you don’t have one, drop a cube of bread into the oil. It should siz­zle in­stantly and turn pale gold in a minute or two. If the bread doesn’t fizz as soon as you add it, the oil is not hot enough.

The twist

You could use mar­row or cour­gettes in place of the but­ter­nut. The cour­gette will work de­li­ciously with feta and thyme. Make a dip with yo­gurt and chopped mint. Try stilton in­stead of feta. ■

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