Santorini Tomato Keftedes are a famous delicacy on the beautiful Greek island. Keftedes are known as a form of Greek meatball. I learned to make keftedes with my father, who loves to put things together in the kitchen. But keftedes can also be made with vegetables. In this form, the keftedes become veggie fritters made with tomatoes or other vegetables. The tomato version of these treats is popular on Santorini and all around the Aegean islands.
What Is A Santorini Tomato?
When most of the Orthodox Churches in Russia closed after the 1917 Revolution, the Greek Orthodox monks on Santorini lost the biggest market for their wine. So looking at what they could sell instead, they settled on their wonderful local cherry tomatoes, uniquely sweet and delicious from the perfect weather and volcanic soil.
As a result, the Santorini tomato has become famous. Its sweet flesh is perfect for mashing into a delightful tomato paste, which was an extremely popular export for many years that brought financial stability to Santorini. A terrible earthquake in 1956 destroyed much of the island, and the canning business never really recovered. Now people mostly enjoy their tomatoes fresh, sun-dried, or used in tomato fritters known as domatokeftedes. The Santorini tomato is a great treat however it finds its way into a meal.
Of course, you can use plum, cherry, grape, tomatoes on the vine or any other fresh type of tomato you like. We’ve used Roma tomatoes and they came out perfectly.
Easy To Make, Plant-Based
These tomato keftedes are quick and easy to make. Our Santorini tomato keftedes recipe is suitable for vegetarians or anyone trying to add more plant-based foods. Better yet, they’re totally delicious and satisfying. If you’re looking for ways to get more vegetables into a picky eater or kid’s diet, then give these a try. They’re a real crowd-pleaser for a party, too.
You can add your own twists using different spices if you like. And if you love the idea of veggie fritters, you can make zucchini fritters, potato fritters, or whatever suits your fancy using the same process. They’re best served hot and crispy, so if you want to serve them with a side salad or slaw, go ahead and make that while you chill the dough for a few minutes in the refrigerator. Chilling is not necessary, but it seems to give the keftedes a bit more crunch.
So here’s our recipe for you. Give it a try and let us know what you think!
Santorini Tomato Keftedes
4-5 plum, Roma, or regular tomatoes or 8 oz. of cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped into fine pieces
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
2 Tbsp fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried marjoram or thyme (thyme has a stronger flavor so be sure you like it, marjoram is a milder alternative)1 large garlic clove, minced
1 to 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (start with one cup, then add if needed)
1/2 tsp baking powder
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for frying
Salt and pepper to taste
- Mix 1 cup of flour and baking powder in a small bowl.
- Combine chopped tomatoes, onion, garlic, parsley, and spices in a large bowl.
- Add the flour mixture to the tomato mixture and blend well until thoroughly combined. The mixture should resemble a thick batter. If it is not very thick, add more flour a little at a time until it becomes thick.
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Refrigerate for 15 minutes (You can use this time to prepare a side salad if you like. You don’t have to refrigerate, but we think it makes the keftedes a bit crisper)
- Place enough olive oil into a large skillet to cover the bottom with about 1/4 inch of oil and heat on medium-high until a drop of water in it sizzles
- Take batter from the fridge and make patties about 2 tablespoons in size. You can use an ice cream scooper and then flatten the scoops if you like.
- Place the patties in the oil and drop the heat to medium. Fry until the edges of the fritter bottoms turn golden brown, usually about 5-7 minutes. Then flip and cook the other side until the keftedes area cooked through and golden brown all over.
- Place cooked tomato keftedes on paper towels to drain and serve immediately, with a side salad if you like.
Enjoy Santorini Tomato Keftedes At Home
We love learning about specialty dishes all over the world and sharing them with you so that you can enjoy them at home. These veggie fritters make it easy to enjoy a delicious plant-based dish with plenty of history and flavors of the Greek isles right from your own kitchen.
While they’re at their peak of freshness right out of the pan, they can be refrigerated or frozen. Thaw, if frozen, and reheat them using a conventional or toaster oven rather than a microwave to revive some of the wonderful crispness and be sure not to cook too long or they will dry out.
We hope you enjoy this little taste of Santorini tomato keftedes and that you give them a try yourself.
For a sweet ending to any meal done the Greek way, check our recipe for Portokalopita Greek Orange Cake!
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