I have been making croquettes — or little fried cakes — for a long time now. They are always popular, and for me they are comfort food. I usually make them with mashed potatoes or beans. It didn’t occur to me that I could use another vegetable until I found Mark Bittman’s recipe for spinach croquettes. But then I realized that the basic croquette is a versatile recipe that can be adapted quite freely. And since it requires cooked vegetables, it is the perfect vehicle for using up leftovers.
Last night I made croquettes with leftover cooked kale. They were surprisingly good, and even the baby ate three small ones. I would also try making them with other greens, artichoke hearts, broccoli, carrots, corn, peas, sweet potatoes or winter squash.
I served them dry, though, which I would amend for next time. Croquettes really need some kind of sauce to be complete. My husband suggested hollandaise sauce, which would be quite decadent and delicious. But even something as simple as a pesto, salsa or aioli would work. But even without the sauce, they are yummy and very quick to make. If you have time to chill them beforehand, all the better.
Yields: about 6 croquettes
- 2 cups cooked vegetable, either mashed or chopped fine
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- ½ cup cheese, grated
- ¼ cup breadcrumbs, plus more for cooking
- seasonings of your choice: chopped onion, fresh herbs, seasoning mix, etc. plus salt and pepper to taste
- 4 tbsp. oil
- ¼ lb. cooked, flaked fish or ground meat (optional)
- Hollandaise sauce, pesto, salsa, aioli, or other mayonnaise or dipping sauce to serve
Combine the vegetable, eggs, cheese, breadcrumbs and seasonings in a bowl, and mix well. Add the meat, if using — these will make the cakes more of an entree than a side dish. If the cakes aren’t holding together, add more breadcrumbs. If they are too dry, add more beaten egg to bind.
Form the croquettes into cakes. You should have at least 6, or you can make mini-cakes to get more. Lay on a sheet of wax paper on a plate and cover with wax paper. Chill for at least half an hour and up to a day.
Heat the oil over medium-high. Dredge the cakes in breadcrumbs. When the oil is shimmering, fry the cakes until well browned, about 5 minutes per side. You may have to cook the cakes in batches depending on the size of your pan.
Serve with the dipping sauce on the side.
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