Mushroom Keftes de Prasa (Sephardic Leek Patties)
A traditional Sephardic Jewish dish, these leek patties are typical of the Balkans and Turkey. They are eaten year round, but customarily served on Passover, when leeks are in season, and on Rosh Hashanah. Leeks (prasa in Turkish) are one of the ceremonial foods that are part of the traditional Yehi Ratzon seder on Rosh Hashanah. They are eaten to symbolize our wish for our enemies to be cut off, or, according to other interpretations, a wish for friendship. While there are several versions of the patties—with ground beef, with or without potatoes—in this vegetarian recipe, I substituted mushroom for the beef and added a handful of spices to mimic the earthy meat flavor a vegetarian could miss.
- 10 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying
- 2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic granules
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground Aleppo pepper
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 12 ounces (4 medium) potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 1 pound leeks, white and tender green parts, rinsed and sliced
- 1 medium onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley (leaves and tender stems), finely chopped in the food processor
- 1 tablespoon tender celery leaves, finely chopped in the food processor
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped in the food processor
- Pinch of sugar
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- ¼ teaspoon finely ground white pepper
- ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs or panko matzah meal, divided
- In 10 short pulses, chop cleaned, sliced mushrooms in a food processor, until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and mix with 2 teaspoons oil, 1 teaspoon sea salt, garlic granules, cinnamon, paprika, Aleppo pepper, balsamic vinegar and sugar. Let sit for about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, boil potatoes until easily pierced with a fork, drain and let cool. Add chopped leeks and onion to a hot pan over medium heat and sweat until softened and all the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Remove and let cool. Add diced mushrooms to the pan (with no oil) and sauté until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are lightly caramelized, about 8 minutes. Let cool.
- After you chop greens in the food processor, remove and set aside. Use the same bowl to briefly pulse leeks and onion few times. Add cool potatoes and use short pulses to combine into a coarsely textured mixture. Transfer to a large bowl. In a small bowl, lightly beat together eggs, ¼ cup crumbs, white pepper and remaining teaspoon salt. Add to potato-leek mixture. Add mushrooms and mix to combine. Add more crumbs if the mixture looks liquidy or soft, one teaspoon at a time. Cover and let chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
- Put remaining breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With wet hands, shape a small amount of the mixture into a ball the size of a Ping-Pong, press lightly in to a 2-inch disc, coat on both sides with crumbs and transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
- Add oil to a frying pan until it’s ½ inch deep. Heat. Gently drop patties onto the hot oil and press lightly with a spatula to flatten. Fry 4 to 6 at a time, and avoid overcrowding. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove patties using a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Serve hot or at room temperature with a spicy tomato sauce or a wedge of lemon. You can also freeze the cooked patties; when ready to serve, reheat in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes.