Chickpea and Butternut Squash Fritters with Field Greens from the AICR

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As one of the foremost cancer research institutes in the nation, the American Institute for Cancer Research leads the way in making evidence-based recommendations that promote lifestyle choices among the public that can prevent the development of some cancers. To this end, every other week their test kitchen offers a new and delicious recipe.

This week: Chickpea and Butternut Squash Fritters with Field Greens.

What makes these fritters taste so good is the delicious combination of chickpeas and butternut squash. What makes them so healthy is that they are lightly sautéed in healthy oil, not deep fat fried like typical fritters. These savory cakes are pleasingly crunchy on the outside, just like you would expect for fritters, and crunchy-creamy on the inside.

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are rich in protein so they are considered part of the protein food group that includes beans and meat, as well as the vegetable food group. Chickpeas, like other legumes, are not only high in protein, they are also high in fiber, particularly soluble fiber. Butternut squash is also rich in fiber and packs a powerful punch of beta-carotene, both of which are cancer protective. The green onions, garlic, sage, cumin and red pepper flakes power the flavors of the nutty chickpeas and subtly sweet squash and offer their own respective array health-promoting phytochemicals. All ingredients are combined with whole-wheat flour and egg to form perfect fritters.

Mixed field greens tossed with toasted hazelnuts and a lemon juice flavored dressing are the base for this fritter topped main dish salad. A light, dill flavored yogurt sauce adds a complementary flavor dimension and may be drizzled on top of the fritters prior to serving or served on the side for dipping.

Although hazelnuts can be purchased shelled, some come with their skins still on. The skins should be removed prior to eating because they taste bitter. Here’s a culinary tip to remove the hazelnut skins easily: In a saucepan bring four cups of water to a boil. Add a quarter cup of baking soda and hazelnuts while the water is bubbling and fizzing. Cook the hazelnuts for about four minutes. Then strain the hazelnuts in a colander in the sink. Run cold water over the hazelnuts and rub them with your fingers. The skins will easily come off. Give the hazelnuts a final rinse. Now they are ready for toasting.

Chickpea and Butternut Squash Fritters served over mixed greens tossed with hazelnuts is a surprisingly delightful way to enjoy plant-based protein-rich foods as a main dish.

Chickpea & Butternut Squash Fritters with Field Greens

  • 2 cups (10 oz.) cubed butternut squash
  • 1 can (15.5 oz.) chickpeas, drained
  • 3 Tbsp. whole-wheat flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 scallions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh sage leaves
  • ¼ tsp. cumin
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil or extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 8 cups field greens (5 oz. pkg.)
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted skinless hazelnuts

Yogurt Dill Sauce

  • 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground white or black pepper

Salad Dressing

  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

For Yogurt Dill Sauce, in small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour into small serving bowl and set aside.

For Salad Dressing, in small bowl, combine lemon juice and oil, season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

For Chickpea and Butternut Squash Fritters, in large saucepan with a steamer basket, steam squash until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer squash to food processor. Add chickpeas, flour, egg, scallions, garlic, sage, cumin and pepper flakes. Pulse until blended yet slightly chunky. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Gently drop six scant 1/4-cup portions of mixture into pan and gently press into round patties with back of measuring cup or spatula. Don’t over crowd skillet. Sauté fritters until golden brown on bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Heat may need to be adjusted for optimal browning. Carefully turn over each fritter and sauté until other side is golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer fritters to plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Use remaining oil to sauté remaining six fritters. There should be 12 fritters in total.

In large bowl, add salad greens. Stir salad dressing and pour over greens. Add hazelnuts and gently toss together.

Arrange greens on large serving platter or four individual dinner plates. Arrange all fritters on top of greens if serving on platter or 3 fritters on each individual plate. Serve with Yogurt Dill Dressing on the side or drizzle on fritters and serve.

Makes 4 servings. Three fritters per serving.

Per serving: 400 calories, 18 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 47 g carbohydrate, 17 g protein, 10 g dietary fiber, 392 mg sodium.

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