One of my favorite restaurants is Zaytinya in Washington DC, where Jose Andres offers an impressive array of Turkish and Lebanese mezze, each blasting with flavor. His Havuc Kofte – carrot fritters served in an amazing pistachio sauce – is a dish we always look forward to.
I tried to recreate this dish at home, and in one of the trials finished them off in three ways: fried the traditional way, and baked with either a brush of olive oil or a sesame seed topping. The unanimous vote was for the baked version, which surprised me – I don’t like frying and eat fried food infrequently, but my kids actually just thought baking really works well for this dish, and voted on flavor only. I wasn’t sure what to call these anymore: Are they still fritters? Fritters are usually fried, not baked. Whatever you call them (suggestions welcome!), they’re delicious.
I have a feeling Andres’s recipe is more involved and has a few more ingredients, while mine is pretty easy, and relies on the food processor as my little helper – we home cooks don’t have the manpower big kitchens do, so I welcome shortcuts.
The leftovers from the pistachio pesto can be used as a dip, bread spread or thinned into a salad dressing.
For the fritters:
- 5 large carrots, cut into chunks
- ½ cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
- 5 dried apricots, coarsely chopped
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cups parsley or dill, coarsely chopped
- 1 large egg
- Sesame seeds or olive oil for coating/brushing
For pistachio pesto:
- 1 cup toasted pistachio nuts
- ½ cup chopped dill
- 1 clove garlic
- Juice from one lemon
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons water
- In a medium pot steam carrots with a little bit of water until tender. Remove from heat and drain well
- Place carrots in food processor, and pulse until mashed
- Add the breadcrumbs, apricots, green onions, pine nuts, paprika, cayenne, salt, black pepper, parsley and dill and eggs. Pulse until bound together. Mixture should be moist but not too wet. If the mixture is too liquid add more breadcrumbs
- Roll into about 25 balls. Place balls in covered container and refrigerate until ready to bake. The balls keep well for a couple of days.
Pistachio dill pesto:
- Place all the ingredients in a food processor, and process together until the mixture becomes a sauce. Taste and correct with additional lemon juice or spices as needed.
- If you prefer a more liquid consistency add more water.
- Heat oven to 400 °F (200 °C)
- Roll carrot balls in sesame seeds, or brush with olive oil, and place on baking sheet
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the balls develop a bit of a crust
Spread pistachio pesto on a plate and arrange baked fritters over the sauce.