Vegetable ‘fritto misto’ in saffron-yeast batter

Vegetable ‘fritto misto’ in saffron-yeast batter

By
From
New Feast
Photographer
Alan Benson

Deep-fried crunchy vegetables are always popular, especially when teamed with a spicy sauce. They are also good with the tahini sauce, aioli or even with a drizzle of honey and sprinkle of salt.

Here, we use a saffron-yeast batter, which is pleasingly untemperamental and robust enough to stand up to the spicy heat of the accompanying sauce. It needs to be made a few hours ahead of time, but you can leave it for up to 12 hours, which develops the flavours.

We’ve not given quantities of vegetables as you can probably figure out this out for yourself, depending on what you have to choose from in the fridge.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

Choose from a selection of vegetables

Quantity Ingredient
eggplant, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, cut into 5 mm slices
cauliflower, broccolini, cut into small florets and sprigs
baby zucchini, okra, pattypan squash, cut into 5 mm slices
spring onions, cut into 3 cm lengths
fine green beans, or flat beans, cut into 2 cm pieces
capsicums, cut into strips
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
1 tablespoon zhoug, (see note)
200g greek-style yoghurt
a glug extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt

Saffron-yeast batter

Quantity Ingredient
175g plain flour
3 teaspoons dried active yeast
250ml warm water
75g greek-style yoghurt
saffron liquid, (15–20 threads saffron steeped in 40 ml of boiling water for 30 minutes)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Method

  1. To make the batter, sift the flour into a bowl. Sprinkle on the yeast then whisk in the warm water and yoghurt to form a batter. Stir in the saffron liquid and salt, then cover and leave to stand for at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours.
  2. When ready to cook, pour vegetable oil into a small, heavy-based saucepan or a deep-fryer to a depth of 5 cm and heat to 190°C.
  3. Dip the vegetable slices, one kind at a time, into the batter then slip them straight into the oil. Fry until crisp and golden brown; the time will vary from seconds (in the case of leaves) to a few minutes for most of the vegetable. Drain on kitchen paper.
  4. Stir the zhoug into the yoghurt and drizzle with the olive oil.
  5. Serve the fritto misto piping hot, with a sprinkling of salt and the spicy sauce for dipping.

Note:

  • If you don’t have a candy thermometer, the oil will have reached the correct temperature when it is shimmering, and when a blob of batter sizzles up to the surface and turns a pale golden brown in about 20 seconds.

Note:

  • To make the zhoug, crush seeds from 4 cardamom pods, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns and 1 teaspoon caraway seeds in a mortar then sift to remove any large bits. Put 4-6 deseeded small red chillies, 2 cups fresh coriander sprigs, 6 garlic cloves, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a splash of water into a food processor and whiz to a paste. Mix in the spices then transfer to a jar. Cover the surface with a thin layer of olive oil and seal.
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