It can’t be a summer without sweet, fleshy, delicious tomatoes. And in this dish, they are the centerpiece. Because tomatoes are so crucial, please please use extra good quality ones. My grandmother typically made this ntomatokeftedes (tomato fritters) in the summer when tomatoes are at their peak. Big and red and irregularly shaped, they should be soft to the touch, but extremely beafy inside. So much so that when you grab one in your hand and poke it with your thumb, you feel the flesh merely squeezing in and only underneath your thumb, the rest of the tomato is intact.
In my father’s vegetable garden in Greece, when I want to make a salad I just cut the tomatoes straight from the plant. Then slice them up on a plate with olive oil, feta cheese and oregano and I have the perfect lunch. Right there on the patio, next to the mesmerizing vegetable plants. It doesn’t get much fresher and simpler than that! I think it’s that simplicity that actually allows you to connect and savor the food all the more.
How to make the mixture
If you love tomatoes as much as I do, you will love ntomatokeftedes. Basically they are tomato fritters. That’s it, simple. So you take your tomatoes and chop up half of them. The other half you grate by hand. I find that this half/half way of prep makes the fritters juicier.
So put the tomatoes in a bowl. Throw in your beaten egg, grated onion, strong oregano and dried thyme. Now chop up your mint and add it together with the crumbled feta. Put in salt and pepper. Next, you add the flour tbsp by tbsp mixing lightly each time. The consistency should be just thick enough to be spooned out and into the frying pan. The batter should stick together, but not too thick. If it is too thick, the taste will be “floury”.
To fry the ntomatokeftedes
Heat up some olive oil over medium low fire. Use a tablespoon to spoon the mixture into the frying pan. Fry each side for 2-3 mins. I repeat medium to low fire here because it’s important to not overcook them. They should be golden brown and crispy outside but slightly raw inside.
When my palate fills up with those semi raw tomatoes, I can feel that beachy, summery carefreeness. I am almost on that beach getting my feet wet! After all, isn’t that what makes food magic? It’s ability to bestow an experience upon us that can transport us from one feeling to the other. I think that’s pretty amazing!
Ntomatokeftedes - Tomato fritters
Ntomatokeftedes - Tomato fritters, is a quite popular dish in Greece. Hearty and juicy and full of summer and beaches and carefreeness.
- 500 g good quality tomatoes (half chopped / half grated) ( abt 17.5 oz)
- 12 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp strong oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 7 tbsp fresh mint, chppped
- 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
- 130 g feta, crumbled 4.5 oz
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 medium onion, chopped
Chop up half of your tomatoes and grate the other half. Put them in a bowl.
Throw in your beaten egg, the grated onion, the oregano, the dried thyme, the mint and basil. Add in the feta cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
Next, you add the flour tbsp by tbsp mixing lightly each time. The consistency should be just thick enough to be spooned out and into the frying pan. The batter should stick together but not too thick.
Heat up some olive oil over medium low fire. Use a tablespoon to spoon out the mixture into the frying pan. Fry each side 2-3 mins or until golden brown. Don't overfry them, you want them slightly raw on the inside.