Chef Spicer likes the sweet, rich, “slightly beany” flavor of chickpea flour, which she uses to bind these earthy chard fritters, and the pungent, “not too spicy” taste of Aleppo pepper. For more on cooking beets to the perfect doneness, see our recipe for Basic Roasted Beets.
Swiss Chard Fritters with Whipped Feta and Baby Beets
- 10 small beets with greens (1-1/4 lb.), greens reserved and coarsely chopped (about 1 oz.)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
- 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
- 6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 oz. (1 cup) crumbled feta cheese, at room temperature
- 10 oz. (1-1/4 cups) fresh ricotta
- 2 large lemons, one grated to yield 1 Tbs. zest and squeezed to yield 2 Tbs. juice, the other cut into wedges for serving
- 1/2 medium fennel bulb, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 4 oz. (1 small bunch) Swiss chard, stemmed, leaves coarsely chopped (about 2-1/2 cups)
- 4-1/4 oz. (1-1/4 cups) chickpea flour; more if needed
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 3 large eggs
- 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tbs. chopped fresh dill; more sprigs for serving
- 3 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground Aleppo pepper
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
- Vegetable oil, for frying, about 6 cups
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F.
- Put the beets and 2 Tbs. water in an 8×8-inch baking dish. Season with salt and pepper, cover with aluminum foil, and roast until tender when pierced with a knife, about 40 minutes. Let the beets sit until cool enough to handle, then peel and slice into quarters. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with the vinegar, 1Tbs. of the oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
- In a food processor, combine the feta, ricotta, lemon juice, and 3 Tbs. of the olive oil. Pulse until combined, then process until the mixture becomes light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the fennel and season with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the beet greens and chard and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
- Transfer a third of the chard mixture to a blender and add the chickpea flour, baking powder, baking soda, eggs, and 1/3 cup water. Blend until combined, scraping down the container as necessary, until the mixture is the consistency of pancake batter. (If the batter is too loose, add chickpea flour to the blender 1 Tbs. at a time and blend until incorporated. If the mixture is too thick, add additional water 1 Tbs. at a time, blending until incorporated.)
- Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and fold in the remaining chard mixture, the lemon zest, garlic, chopped dill, mint, cinnamon, Aleppo pepper, nutmeg, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
- In a 4- to 5-quart heavy-duty pot fitted with a deep-fry thermometer, heat 2 inches of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F.
- Using a tablespoon measure and a small spoon, carefully drop 6 to 8 walnut-size balls of batter into the oil. Fry, turning once, until the fritters float to the surface and turn crisp and light golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with additional salt. Continue to fry in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pot.
- To serve, spread the feta mixture on a large platter and top with the fritters, beets, and dill sprigs. Serve with lemon wedges.