Vegetable patties with spinach and herbs

Ah, babies are unpredictable. The first time I made these vegetable patties, my son scarfed them down. Crispy and soft inside, I handed them to him hot off the stove and he couldn’t get enough. I was thrilled. It’s not like he doesn’t eat vegetables, but he’s given to bouts of pickiness and it always makes me happy when he eats more vegetables, you know? And all those lovely fresh herbs!

So like any mother, I made these patties again. But oh, the fickle nature of 1-year-olds. He gleefully smashed one between his hands, and watched it crumble to pieces.

I tried again. He turned his head as the patty approached. Some might have made it into his mouth. A significant amount made it onto the floor. An even larger amount was left over.

Fortunately, these aren’t only for children — there’s no reason adults shouldn’t enjoy them as well. Spinach and mixed herbs — dill, parsley, cilantro and green onions — add freshness, while cauliflower and zucchini lend sweetness. The vegetables are slowly stir-fried until lightly caramelized, before being formed into little patties and fried into bite-sized pieces with crispy exteriors.

Really, when my son doesn’t eat these, I shouldn’t be complaining. More for the rest of us, after all.

For about 18 patties, depending on how large you make them:

250 grams cauliflower (most of a small head)
250 grams zucchini (one medium zucchini)
150 grams onion (half a large onion)
250 grams fresh spinach (about half a bunch)
big handful fresh dill (1/2 cup chopped, loosely packed)
big handful fresh parsley (1/2 cup chopped, loosely packed)
5-6 stalks green onions (3/4 cup chopped, loosely packed)
small handful fresh cilantro (1/4 c chopped, loosely packed)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch cumin (1/8 teaspoon)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs or matzo meal
2 eggs
oil for frying

Finely chop the cauliflower and onion, and coarsely grate the zucchini. Put the vegetables in a pan with some oil for frying, and let cook until all the vegetables are lightly browned and somewhat soft (I know people generally start with onions, but I really don’t think it matters here — everything needs to lightly caramelize). The pan will be quite full, so you’ll have to stir intermittently so that all the vegetables cook.

Chop the spinach and the herbs (dill, parsley, green onion and cilantro), and add to the pan. Cook for a few more minutes, stirring to incorporate, until the greens have become limp and reduced in volume.

Scoop the vegetables into a bowl, and mix with the spices (salt, pepper, paprika and cumin), the breadcrumbs or matzo meal, and the egg.

Reheat the pan on a medium flame, adding enough oil to cover the base. Scoop spoonfuls of the batter into the pan, pressing down slightly to flatten into patties. Once they’re browned on the bottom, flip to cook on the other side. Once both sides are cooked, remove to a plate lined with paper towels to blot up extra oil.

Repeat with the remainder of the better.

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