A wonderful vegetarian side dish, Kufte de Prassa without meat uses mashed potatoes to bind the leeks together in a patty rather than ground beef. My Nona used to make these and my mother, we call her Nona now, always talks about this dish with very fond memories. I think for immigrants on a very tight budget something made without meat was delicious and ingenious.
It always amazes what alchemy our Nona’s performed with a little bit of this and that, with ingredients brought home often by husbands who had no clue about ‘cooking’ only eating and only with the thought of how much money it all cost and how many mouths there were to feed. In 1910-and after Nona did not drive. Nona transformed boxes of farm market vegetables when Pikes Place was in its infancy into delights for the palate with technique more than anything else.
So this year as Pesach approaches, try this dish, a wonderful little mouthful, squeeze fresh lemon and put a little salt on it before you pop it in your mouth and while you savor the kufte think about how the cuisine evolved, while remaining essentially intact when our Nonas and Papus emigrated and were confronted with new circumstances. Think about how Am Israoel was confronted with new circumstances when they left Egypt and slavery behind.
4 large leeks
2 large potatoes
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup matzo meal
1 egg beaten
Salt and pepper
Matzo cake flour
Cut the ends off the leeks, slit them lengthwise and wash out each layer, taking care not to take the whole thing apart. Slice off any tough layers of outer layer dark green leaves. Dry the leaks and mince them with a sharp knife. Place the leeks in a sauce pan with a tight fitting lid and cover with cold water. Bring the leeks to a boil and let them cook for two minutes. Turn off the heat and let the leeks cool in the water. Drain the leeks and then squeeze out any water left in the leek with your hands. Set the leeks aside in a bowl, you may do this a couple days before as you wish and keep refrigerated.
Peel the potatoes, wash, and slice them into ¼ inch thick slices. Place the potatoes in a sauce pan, cover them with cold water, and bring to a boil until they are soft enough to mash easily. Drain the potatoes and mash.
Combine the potatoes with the cooked leeks. Add the matzo meal, 1 beaten egg, parsley, salt and pepper. Combine the mixture well with your hands. Refrigerate the mix for several hours to allow it become a little stiff. Make the leek and potato mix into patties about 1-2 inches in circumference. Next roll each patty in a bit of matzo cake meal. Beat the remaining 4 eggs in a shallow bowl. Preheat a sauté pan. When it is medium hot, add vegetable oil, Safflower is kosher for Passover.
Dip each patty in beaten egg and slip into the hot oil. Fry until golden light brown, turning only once. Remove patties from the oil and drain on paper towel. Serve them hot with lemon wedges and salt. This makes a gret side dish on a Passover table or you can use them for lunch.
Greek Girl from Queens says
Although the hubby would probably prefer this dish made with beef, I think I’d also love to make it strictly vegetarian. I’ve never made these myself, but always loved them as a kid when either my mother, grandmother, nuna or one of my aunties would make them.
I remember my nuna also using okra along with the leeks – a vegetable I was never particularly fond of on its own or in soups, but inside the kufte, it was as delicious as could be.
You’re absolutely right, Linda. My nuna also performed cooking magic with all the produce my popu would bring home. She was an absolutely amazing cook and baker. A big regret in my life is that I didn’t pay more or closer attention to all the delicious kitchen wizardry she conjured up out of seemingly so little, to feed so many when I was a young girl – although I picked up little bits of information and skills when I was with her when helping her in the kitchen, looking back on it now I realise I had such an amazing teacher for a nuna but didn’t learn all I could have….if only I realised that at the time.
Linda, the kuftes look great! I just posted the meat version yesterday! I love both the meat and the potato versions, these were such a treat growing up and they still are. My mom’s side of the family usually adds meat while my dad’s side adds potatoes.
By the way, I was just looking at your leek and ground beef patties recipe and realized you use a lot more meat than I do, I’ll definitely give both recipes a try. Thank you, Linda.
Greek Girl from Queens says
Hi Megi – I received and read this blog post from Linda just after reading yours from the day before, with meat. They both look delicious. Which one should I try making first, I keep asking myself? Decisions…decisions. I think I’ll just have to make both, so we can sample each one. Thanks to both of you for sharing these great recipes – they bring back many wonderful memories of long ago.