Natural Wine Killers: Miso Herb Courgette Fritters with Labneh Dipping Sauce and Bergkloster Cuvée Weiss 2022

I’ve come around to courgettes. I used to find them watery and insipid, a seasonal vegetable that grew in large gluts that were inversely proportional to its deliciousness, but I’m beginning to appreciate this less showy workhorse of the warmer months.

For instance, have you noticed that, when you grate courgette, it smells uncannily like freshly mown grass? Or that its skin holds the sun’s warmth? What about the fact it goes so well with so many other summertime greens and herbs?

This year, I vowed to course-correct and to make courgette the star of one of my first summertime dishes. Fritters have long been one of the most delicious and adaptable ways to cook excess vegetables, but rather than using it as filler, these fritters elevate (and celebrate) the courgette.

Here, I’ve swapped out the more common dill accompaniment for basil and used fistfuls of the mint that’s taking over my tiny garden planter. Spring onions and bird’s-eye chilli add their own kick, lemon zest brightens things up and crumbled feta turns perfectly creamy in the frying pan. I also added miso, which imparts a sweet-savoury depth and makes these fritters feel worthy of a grown-up meal.

Alongside, there’s a simple labneh dipping sauce (though you could also use Greek yoghurt). There’s also Bergkloster Cuvée Weiss, a lip-smackingly juicy skin-contact wine that’s got summer written all over it. Hailing from Germany’s Rheinhessen wine region, it’s pungent with tropical fruit notes, with a tang of citrus and rhubarb and a hint of delicate elderflower to keep things elegant. It picks up the basil and mint’s own vivid aromas, and cuts through the olive oil.

Summer may be late to arrive this year, but with this pairing, I already feel like I’ve arrived at the season's peak.

Miso Herb Courgette Fritters with Labneh Dipping Sauce
Makes approximately 22–24 fritters

For the fritters:
900g courgettes (roughly 3 large courgettes)
2 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
60g mint, finely chopped
60g basil, finely chopped
1 bunch spring onions, thinly sliced
1 bird’s-eye chilli, minced (optional)
Zest of 1 lemon
200g feta, finely crumbled
3 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons white miso
150g flour (plus additional if needed)
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Olive oil, for frying

For the dipping sauce:
150g labneh (substitute Greek yoghurt)
Juice of 1 lemon
2–3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1–2 garlic cloves, minced
Flaky sea salt, to taste

1. First, using a box grater or the grating blade in your food processor, roughly grate the courgettes. Transfer to a sieve or colander, place over a large bowl and season with 1 teaspoon fine sea salt. Set aside for 20–30 minutes, or until the salt has drained away some of the courgettes’ moisture. To squeeze out as much as possible, either press firmly with a wooden spoon or – better yet – transfer to a cheesecloth or kitchen towel. Wring out every last drop of moisture.

2. Transfer the grated courgettes to a large bowl. Add the spring onions, mint, basil, bird’s-eye chilli (if using), lemon zest, feta, beaten eggs and miso paste. Mix well to combine.

3. In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking powder, black pepper and coriander, and whisk to combine.

4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring until well-combined. Taste; the miso and feta are likely quite salty, so you may not need to add any additional seasoning. Otherwise, add up to 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt if needed. Set the batter aside for 20–30 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the moisture. The batter should be quite thick.

5. While the batter sits, prepare the labneh dipping sauce. Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and mix or whisk until thoroughly combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

6. Next, get ready to cook the fritters. Line a large baking tray with paper towels, set a wire cooling rack on top of it, and place next to your hob. Add several tablespoons of olive oil to a large, nonstick frying pan and place over medium heat. Once hot but not smoking, make a test fritter: Add a large dollop of batter (roughly enough to make a 2- or 3-inch-wide fritter) to the pan and turn the heat down to low or medium-low - you may need to adjust the temperature as you go so it cooks evenly.

7. Cook for roughly 2–3 minutes, or until golden-brown. Gently flip, and cook for 2–3 minutes more, or until golden-brown on the reverse and the fritter feels firmed-up. Transfer to the wire cooling rack. If you notice the fritter still feels a bit soft, or falls apart when flipping, add additional flour to the batter.

8. Repeat the process, cooking the remaining fritters in batches (my pan fits three at a time), adding any additional olive oil between batches if needed. If you’d like, you can transfer your finished fritters to the oven on its lowest setting to keep them warm while you cook the rest.

9. Serve the fritters warm, with dipping sauce on the side.

Claire M Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beer hound and all-around lover of tasty things. You can follow her at @clairembullen. For more recipes like this, sign up to our Natural Wine Killers wine subscription - you'll receive Claire's recipe and food pairings plus expert tasting notes for three amazing wines like this one every month.