Spinach, Spelt and Saffron Fritters

Spinach, Spelt and Saffron Fritters

Spinach, Spelt and Saffron Fritters

These are great vegetarian snacks that are perfect for refuelling if you have had a top night out and need to regenerate a little before indulging again. 

Spelt is a nutty grain similar to wheat, just much more flavoursome – and as all vegetarians know, there is nothing worse than a dish that fulfills the 'vege' brief and fails the flavour test.  I really enjoy these for lunch and if you make a big batch they freeze well, so can be kept in the fridge for emergency, but fairly healthy, fast food.
Serve hot, warm or cold with a salad, grilled fish or as an alternative to falafels in a kebab!  Really good just as they are, with a little tzatziki.

2 cups cooked saffron rice 
1 cup Greek yoghurt
½ cup rolled spelt + extra for rolling patties in
¼ cup wholemeal flour + extra for rolling patties in
1 small brown onion, very finely chopped
¼ cup celery, grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
A generous bunch of spinach or silverbeet
½ cup Pecorino cheese
3 eggs
1 teaspoon Nigella seeds
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
Black pepper, cayenne pepper or even a bright red chilli if you are brave
Bunch of thyme
Bunch of basil, finely chopped
Juice and zest of a lemon
Oil for shallow frying

For the rice – 2 cooked cups equates to about 1 cup raw Jasmine rice cooked with a couple of good pinches of saffron and salt and enough water to cover rice only.  Bring the water to the boil and allow the rice to almost cook – slightly undercooked is better than overcooked.  Turn off the heat and place a lid on the rice, leave for at least 20 minutes, then fluff up with a fork.
Once the rice is cooked, allow to cool by spreading on a tray – or cook ahead of time and cool in the fridge overnight.

Clean the spinach well – make sure there are no bugs hiding in the leaves – then cut very finely.
In a large frying pan, warm through the Nigella and caraway seeds then add a tablespoon of olive oil ad add the onion.  Allow the onion to colour quite well, then add the garlic.
Reduce the heat, fold in the spinach and cover with a lid to allow to sweat.  Once wilted down, remove the lid and let the excess water evaporate, turn off the heat.
In a large mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, nutmeg, yoghurt, Pecorino, flour and spelt into a thick batter.  Add the basil and thyme, salt, pepper and lemon juice and zest.  Fold through the rice, coating it well with the batter.  If the mix is a little sloppy add a small amount of extra flour – not too much though the texture should be light!
Add the cooked spinach, being careful not to add any excess water.

Once the mixture is well combined, heat olive oil in the frying pan for shallow frying.
In a bowl/container combine a small amount of spelt and wholemeal flour for dredging the patties.
Form the mixture into small patties, then roll into the spelt/flour mix.  When cooked this outer coating becomes very crisp, nutty and delicious.
Cook the patties a few at a time, allow the coating to brown well and develop a good crust.
Drain on a wire rack over baking paper. 

Spinach, Spelt and Saffron Fritters

Serve warm with a salad or grilled fish – very tasty cold with a well chilled beverage on a hot day.