I know that for many of you, summer is long gone. But for me, it just ended. Now that I'm finished with my seasonal summer job at the restaurant. I mean kind of ended, as it's still sunny and warm outside with plenty of tourists still visiting the beautiful Greek island I have the privilege to live on.
For me, it can't really feel like fall until the weather finally starts to rain. Which by the way hasn't done so for 3 months now! Anyways, I wanted to say goodbye to summer and hello to you again (missed you a lot) with these so easy-to-make fritters made with THE summer vegetable that can be no other than tomato of course!
In Greece, we call them Tomatokeftedes and they taste absolutely fabulous. They are made with fresh ingredients and super ripe and sweet tomatoes. They're flavored with feta cheese, basil, oregano, and sweet red pepper. Fried and served with a very refreshing Greek yogurt and cream cheese dip. Served on a get-together they're going to make all your family and/or friends very happy.
These Greek tomato fritters are a great healthier snack for the kids too. Since their flavor is very similar to that of a pizza.
Tomatokeftedes From Santorini
The most famous tomato fritters in Greece are the ones originating from the island of Santorini. The local tomato variety, the Santorini tomatoes that are sweet and similar to Roma tomatoes is what makes these fritters so famous.
Also, some older ladies of the island use some fava (yellow split peas) in the recipe as well, as this is also a very famous ingredient that's cultivated on the island of Santorini.
Which Tomato Variety To Use To Make Tomato Fritters
As you may have guessed Roma tomatoes are an excellent choice of tomato variety to use for this recipe. But since the ripest = the sweetest, any other variety like heirloom or beefsteak is also a great option.
In other words, all you need is ripe and sweet tomatoes that are full of flavor. You can even use cherry tomatoes for this recipe. Just make sure you weigh them first (should weigh about 620 grams for this recipe) chop half of them and blend the other half in a blender or food processor (see recipe for full instructions).
How To Make Tomatokeftedes
Like with most fritters it's a toss everything in a bowl and mix recipe. But before you do that, I'll tell you my secret in making the flavor of the tomatoes even stronger.
First, you have to cut the tomatoes in half and remove the insides. Add the insides of the tomatoes along with the sweet red pepper in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Transfer this mixture to a pan and cook along with a bit of olive oil, until it starts to drain into a really thick sauce.
This way you remove the moisture from the tomatoes, making their flavor even stronger. Plus, the red pepper helps to give a natural sweetness to this quick, 2-minute to make tomato sauce.
As for the tomato skins, dice them finely and add them to the fritter mixture as well. Add the remaining ingredients, leaving the flour for last, so you can add as much as needed depending on the moisture of the fritter mixture.
Take spoonfuls of the fritter mixture and fry them in a pan with hot oil (you may use half olive oil for more flavor). Then let the fritters dry for a minute or two on paper towels. Serve with the Greek yogurt dip and enjoy!
Tomatokeftedes - Greek Tomato Fritters
For The Fritters:
- 3 medium-sized ripe tomatoes (about 620 grams)
- ½ red pimento pepper (or other sweet red pepper)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ medium-sized red onion finely chopped
- 1 large spring onion finely chopped (save the tips of the green parts to use in the dip and as a garnish on top)
- 5-6 fresh basil leaves chopped (may use ⅓ teaspoon of dried basil instead)
- 1,5 tablespoons dried oregano
- 100 grams / 3.5 oz feta cheese crumbled
- 7-8 tablespoons all-purpose flour (about 130 grams) you may need extra flour depending on how juicy your tomatoes are
- frying oil
- salt and pepper
For The Yogurt Dip:
- 4 loaded tablespoons strained Greek yogurt (about 200 grams) either full-fat or low-fat
- 1 tablespoon cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped Spring onion tips (the green parts) you may use chives instead
- ⅓ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Make The Dip:
- Combine all of the ingredients for the dip in a mixing bowl and then place in the fridge while you make the fritters.
Make The Fritters:
- The fritter mixture is better to be used right away. Because the more it sits, the runnier it will get. Which means you will need to add more flour which in turn means a more bland flavor. So it is better used once you make it.
- Remove the stems and bottoms of the tomatoes. Cut them in half, remove the insides and add them into a food processor or blender. Add the red pepper in as well and blend until smooth runny paste forms.
- Transfer this paste into a non-stick pan along with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook over high heat for about 5 minutes stirring with a wooden spoon until it drains and thickens.
- Cut the skins of the tomatoes into very small dices and add to a mixing bowl.
- Add the spring onion, red onion, the cooked tomato paste, dried oregano, and chopped basil into the bowl as well. Season with salt and pepper. But don't add too much salt as the feta is salty enough.
- Stir to combine and then add the feta cheese. Add also the flour in the mixture in batches while stirring the mixture with a spoon. You may need more or less flour depending on the moisture of your mixture and how ripe the tomatoes are. The mixture should be thick like a cake batter or sticky enough to hold the ingredients together. It may get runnier while it sits so you may need to add a tablespoon or two of extra flour by the time you have fried all of the fritters.
- Half-fill a non-stick pan with frying oil (about 2cm in height) and heat over medium-high heat.
- Once the oil is sizzling hot, take spoonfuls of the fritter mixture (using a tablespoon) and add them into the hot oil. Keep some distance between each fritter so they won't stick together. Don't cook more than 5-6 at a time because the temperature of the oil will drop and the fritters will get soggy. Cook the fritters for 3-4 minutes, flipping them once or twice until they get a deep-golden color all around.
- Transfer fritters on paper towels to drain excess oil. Again, leave some space between them so there is room for excess moisture to escape.
- Serve warm with the cold yogurt dip.
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