In Greece the word “keftedes” on its own means meatballs, but the poor who rarely could afford meat made “keftedes” on the spur of the moment with whatever ingredients were to hand or using the leftovers from the previous day. So you can find “keftedes” with zucchinis, wild greens, chickpeas, octopus, olives etc.
If you are contemplating of visiting the Greek islands for this year’s holiday, then you must try out this extra flavorsome dish. Tomato fritters! A specialty of the southern Aegean cuisine. But arguably, the most renowned are from Santorini. The volcanic soil, bright sunny days and lack of rainfall make for immaculate tomato growing conditions, so Santorini tomatoes are sweet, juicy and absolutely perfect. It is no surprise that the locals cherish their locally produced tomatoes, making the very best tomato balls!
Of course there is nothing to compare with tasting these for the first time sitting at the edge of the Caldera outdoors under a shady bougainvillea pergola accompanied with a glass of white wine.
The classic recipe calls for you to make a thick batter with finely chopped tomatoes, chopped onions, flour, followed by herbs (oregano, thyme and mint), salt and pepper. The batter is then slipped into hot olive oil by the spoonful, and fried until the fritters become reddish-gold. But there is no accounting for tastes. Some add capers, grated zucchinis, eggs, cheese and other spices.
This is my version of Tomato-patties. Light and healthier (because they are baked in the oven), kid-friendlier (because we use our food processor to finely chop the onions, the garlic and the fresh herbs, so that they are not noticed in taste) and tastier (because we add cheese to the batter and hey…. do not tell me that feta cheese doesn’t perfectly match with the fresh tomatoes, the olive oil and the oregano).
Hands on: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes (at 180oC / 350oF)
Serves: 20-22 patties
6-7 big & ripe tomatoes (cut in 2cm cubes)
2 onions (finely chopped)
3 coves garlic (finely chopped)
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
6 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon sugar
2 cups (200gr.) self-rising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 bunch fresh mint leaves (finely chopped)
1 tablespoon dry oregano
150 gr. feta cheese (crumbled)
How to do it
Cut the tomatoes in four. Remove the tomato seeds and then finely chop them with a knife. Place them in a colander and set aside.
Finely chop the onions and the garlic cloves using your food processor.
Take a big bowl and add the tomatoes, the eggs, onions, garlic, olive oil, self-rising flour and the baking powder. Mix well using a spoon. Do not knead.
Then add the feta cheese, the mint (chop it in your food processor too) and the dry oregano. Season with salt and a little bit of pepper and mix gently to incorporate.
Preheat the oven at 180oC (350oF).
Line a parchment paper on a baking tray.
Add about one heaping tablespoon of batter for each patty.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and crispy.
Enjoy hot or cold. Dip them in a bowl full of “tzatziki”.
Use fresh tomatoes only. Buy the best you can afford. Our main ingredient should be of high quality.
Your tomatoes should be fully ripe but firm too.
You can fry your tomato patties if you like. But it’s healthier and lighter to bake them in the oven.
If you choose to fry them, they need 2 minutes on each side. No more.
The frying oil should cover completely the patties surface. Do not add in your frying pan all the patties together. The temperature of the oil will be reduced and your patties won’t become crunchy.
If your kids do not like feta cheese, you can add some other hard and salty cheese (coarsely grated).