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Category: Appetizers

Keftes de prasa (beef and leek croquettes)

Growing up in Los Angeles as an only child of a single parent -- my mom -- I experienced holidays as a fusion of our tiny family and the huge extended family my mom constantly gathered around us. When spring ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour | Serves 4 to 6
Note: These traditional croquettes from Greece are delicious accompanied by a simple wedge of lemon, more elaborately finished by a short dunk in a simple tomato sauce, or as suggested here, untraditionally with a sweet-sour Persian walnut-pomegranate sauce. Pomegranate molasses is widely available in the Middle Eastern section of markets.

Persian walnut-pomegranate sauce

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 2 cups very finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar, to taste
  • Pinch saffron soaked in 1/4 cup hot water
  • Salt to taste

Step 1Add just enough olive oil to a large skillet to coat the bottom. Add the onion and cook over low heat until lightly browned and soft, about 7 minutes.

Step 2Add the pomegranate juice, pomegranate molasses, walnuts, sugar and saffron.

Step 3Simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the nuts from burning. Taste the sauce and add salt to taste and additional pomegranate juice or sugar to achieve the desired sweet-sour balance. Cook until sauce just thickens.

Beef and leek croquettes

  • 4 large leeks
  • Salt
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup matzo meal
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh dill
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges for garnish

Step 1Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and wash well to remove any hidden dirt. Trim the root and discard the tough outer leaves. Cut into thin crosswise slices and swish in a bowl of water, changing the water two or three times to be sure the leeks are free of dirt.

Step 2Put the leeks in a saucepan and cover with water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the leeks are soft, about 35 minutes. Drain the cooked leeks in a colander and cool. When the leeks are cool, squeeze out as much water as possible.

Step 3Place the leeks in a mixing bowl with the meat, eggs, matzo meal and dill. Beat together so the ingredients are well mixed. Place a small nut-sized piece of the mixture in boiling water and cook so you can taste for salt and pepper and texture. Taste and make adjustments if necessary.

Step 4Form into small patties about 2 1/2 inches across. Fry in one inch of hot olive oil until cooked through, browning both sides, about 4 to 5 minutes total. Drain. Serve immediately with Persian walnut-pomegranate sauce or simmer for 10 minutes in the sauce and serve. Garnish with lemon wedges.

Each croquette with 2 tablespoons sauce:
265 calories; 4 grams protein; 18 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 13 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 42 mg. cholesterol; 31 mg. sodium.
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