When weekends finally come around, I find myself reaching for old favourites, the food that comes with great flavours and plenty of nostalgia. This brought me back to syrniki, a favourite weekend treat and one of the first posts on this blog. Syrniki were a childhood favourite – sweet and decadent and exactly the sort of treat I needed to get me out of bed. But I also felt that there was more to be done. As brilliant as they are as a sweet treat, why couldn’t they be made savoury? These Grana Padano Fritters are based on the syrniki of my youth, an Italian cousin to my Russian originals.
Grana Padano is an Italian hard cheese from Northern Italy with a long, rich history. I’ve used Grana Padano for a while, first discovering it on a trip to Italy a few years ago, but only recently learned that it is made specifically from milk from the Po River Valley, following a tradition created by months a thousand years ago. Currently protected as a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) product, it is the world’s best-selling PDO product. There are varieties to choose from which make it highly versatile and perfect for experimentation like this: aged over 9 months, 16 months and ‘RISERVA’ aged over 20 months.
For this recipe I used a variety of Grana Padano that has been aged over 16 months. The cheese is wonderfully well balanced, enough bite to provide wonderful flavour but delicate enough to not overwhelm the palate. Softer than more aged varieties, it meshed well into the fritters and provided exactly the sort of creaminess I want to find in my fritters.
I added the fresh Tomato and Basil salsa to balance out the rich taste of the fritters. Give it a try for a weekend brunch!
For the tomato and basil salsa
- 200 g cherry tomatoes red, yellow and green, cut
- 6-8 basil leaves sliced
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
For the fritters
- 500 g ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs
- 130 g/1 cup flour
- 50 g Grana Padano over 16 months aged, grated
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- salt to taste
- 2 tbsp oil for frying
- Make the tomato and basil salsa by cutting a punnet of cherry tomatoes and mixing with sliced basil leaves and minced garlic. Add salt, pepper and olive oil.
- In a medium bowl combine all ingredients and stir until well combined.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan, test the oil is hot enough by sprinkling a pinch of flour, if it’s hot it will sizzle.
- Drop approximately 2 tbsp of the cheese mixture into a hot oil like a pancake and fry over medium heat for 2 minutes on each side.
- Remove on a kitchen paper lined platter to soak up extra oil.
- Serve Grana Padano fritters while really hot with tomato and basil salsa.