Tomatokeftedes {Tomato Balls}

New! Tomatokeftedes { Greek Tomato Balls} via cookingforkeeps.com

There were a bazillion things I was excited for prior to our Greece trip – the scenery, the clear turquoise waters, the sunsets, the shopping, the excursions – but as you can imagine, what I was looking forward to most was the food. I pictured myself stuffing my face with gyros from street vendors, the freshest seafood (including octopus!), loads of pita bread and tzaziki sauce, pastas, and the most anticipated –tomatokeftedes (tomato balls). I’d been hearing about these little jewels for quite some time from sources like Giada in Paradise, Trip Advisor reviews etc, and knew I had to get my hands on them. They’re a Santorini specialty and are on almost every single restaurant menu that litter the streets. Rightfully so, since they utilize one of Santorinis most treasured fruits (or vegetables depending on where you fall), the tomato.

New! Tomatokeftedes { Greek Tomato Balls} via cookingforkeeps.com

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. We were there right when the tomatoes were starting to peak, but I can only imagine what they taste like in the latter part of June. Of course, we had tomatoes in just about everything we ate, but just as I anticipated, my favorite way to eat them was in a traditional tomato ball. Now, I’m not really sure why they call them tomato balls, because they definitely are not shaped into a ball form, they’re more like what we, in America, would call a fritter.
New! Tomatokeftedes { Greek Tomato Balls} via cookingforkeeps.com

Ripe tomatoes are peeled, seeded and chopped into tiny pieces and then simply combined with a mixture of herbs, onions, a little bit of salt and flour. They’re shaped into patties and then fried in a bath of good quality Santorini olive oil until they’re puffed and golden brown. Most are served by themselves as an appetizer, but I preferred mine dunked in a vat of tzaziki sauce (of course). I think I ordered them almost every day, and even had them for breakfast one time, so of course, they were on my immediate short list of Greek dishes to make when I got home. (The guys below are ones we had from a cute little wine bistro on our first night in Satorini, they look pretty close to mine, don’t they?!)

New! Tomatokeftedes { Greek Tomato Balls} via cookingforkeeps.com

I made mine almost identical to how I’d heard previously. I threw a couple of tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for a few seconds to make peeling the skin off easier, seeded them, (it’s important to get ALL of the seeds and juice out, otherwise they will come out soggy.) and then chopped them up into tiny pieces where they become almost pulp-like. I tossed them with some fresh basil and mint from my garden, lots of finely chopped onion (I go heavy on the onion, because I LOVE it), and a little bit of salt. To aid in a crispy texture and more puffed up ball, I combined a little bit of baking soda and baking powder with the flour and then tossed everything together. They’re then fried up in good-quality olive oil until golden brown, crisp and ready to be devoured. A little note, it’s important to use good-quality olive oil here, because you really want that olive oil flavor to be distinct in the fritter, I guess it’s part of the ensemble, if you will.

New! Tomatokeftedes { Greek Tomato Balls} via cookingforkeeps.com

New! Tomatokeftedes { Greek Tomato Balls} via cookingforkeeps.com

Again, you can eat them just as is, they’re delicious, but I I like to serve mine with homemade tzaziki sauce (Is that an American thing) or salty whipped feta.

Now, just in case you don’t want to see any more Greece pictures, I saved them for the bottom here, so if you just want the recipe, go ahead and scroll down to the bottom.

I’m going talk a little bit about where we stayed in Santorini. There are a few towns in Santorini, but the two biggest and perhaps most well known are Fira and Oia. Fira is in the center of the island and is kind of where all the action is at; Oia is the town you seen in pictures and magazines, it has all the blue-topped buildings and churches, is a bit more serene, and more old-world Greece. Although it’s filled to the brink with tourists trying to get that perfect photo as the sun is dipping behind the mountains, and they will push, shove, do whatever they have to do to get that shot.

(Fira below)

Fira, Santorini via cookingforkeeps.com

We chose to stay in Fira for a couple of reasons; it’s centrally located to Oia and other towns and beaches, has quite a few more restaurants to choose from and is generally more affordable. We had heard that the sunsets in Oia were not to be missed, and Kevin and I are all about the view on vacation, so I was a little nervous that we wouldn’t have the view we had hoped for, but honestly we were much more impressed with the sunsets and views in Fira rather than Oia.

Just take a look. The pictures below are of the sunsets in Fira.

Fira Santorini Greece Sunset via cookingforkeeps.com

Fira, Santorini Greece sunset via cookingforkeeps.com

This picture below is the sunset in Oia – gorgeous, but don’t you think Fira is just as beautiful? Plus you can actually watch the sunset in peace with a cocktail instead of being elbowed and ran over by a crazy person. ( I also took this with my DLSR so it’s a little clearer than the other two which were taken with my iphone)

Oia, Santorini Sunset

I couldn’t recommend our hotel enough, Kevin actually found it after Mandi and I had our minds set to stay at the same hotel the Kardashians stayed at (which of course was wayyy on the outskirts of town), aren’t we practical? It was perched high up in the cliffs, but right smack dab in the middle of town. Our room was pretty large (for European standards), and two floors, so you’d walk into the room and to your left was a pretty large closet and bathroom, and then you go up the steps where your bed was situated back into a cave (so cool!), and then you had the mini bar, desk, etc. in front, that opened up to a pretty large balcony with an unobstructed view of the Aegean Sea and Volcano.

The view I woke up to every morning.

Santorini Greece View Nefeles Suites via cookingforkeeps.com

Almost every morning Kev and I would bring our coffee up from breakfast (which was complimentary) and sit on our balcony, just soaking in the beauty that surrounded us – it was truly breathtaking.

Santorini Greece via cookingforkeeps.com

Another reason we adored our hotel was the fact that we were literally just steps away from a ton of amazing restaurants with amazing views. We also had an adorable rooftop bar, literally right outside the front of our hotel with the most amazing view of the volcano – bonus? They had fun cocktails, like a spicy coconut mojito – ah-mazing.

Santorini Greece via cookingforkeeps.com

One of our very favorite restaurants, Argo, was also just a few steps away from our hotel. It was there I had not only one of the best steaks of my life, but THE best moussaka (an eggplant, beef and béchamel casserole) of my life (recipe to come later when I’m not feeling so large). The restaurant was delicious, had a stunning view (see Fira sunset above), impeccable service, was pretty much the cutest little tavern ever and even gave us blankets when the sun disappeared. I really wish I could go back right about now…..

Ok, enough for now! I’ll be back tomorrow, talking about Mykonos! And next week, Oia!! Below is a photo dump of more Santorini pics!

Our rooftop sundeck and teeny tiny pool. The view though!

Nefeles Suites Santorini via cookingforkeeps.com

Just after sunset in Fira…

Santorini Greece via cookingforkeeps.com

Riding ATVs along the coast and cliffs.

Santorini Greece via cookingforkeeps.com

More views…

Santorini Greece via cookingforkeeps.com

The black beach. HOT!

Black Beach Santorini Greece via cookingforkeeps.com

Tomatokeftedes {Tomato Balls}

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 8-10

Serving Size: 1

Ingredients

  • 2 cups tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely diced (make sure to get ALL the seeds and juice out!)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced basil
  • 1 tablespoon minced mint
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup flour (may need more depending on how wet the tomatoes are)
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Tzaziki Sauce

Instructions

  1. In a bowl combine, tomatoes, salt, onion, basil and mint. In another bowl, mix baking powder, baking soda and flour. Stir into tomatoes. Season to taste with PLENTY of salt. You don't want these underseasoned!
  2. Heat a large non-stick skillet with about 1/8 inch of olive oil to a medium-high heat.
  3. Spoon the batter into the oil, making about 3 inch long fritters. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 1-2 minutes per side.
  4. Drain on paper towels and serve with tzaziki Sauce
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Comments

  1. Those photos look GORG…again. Man, I need to get my Greece on!
    Especially because I want to try these babies! But, am I totally blind…me no see a recipe???
    Thanks lady!

  2. Wow! what gorgeous pictures, must of been hard to come back. Love these tomato balls, will be making a batch when tomatoes start showing up in the farmers markets here. Pinned.

  3. Incredible Nicole! I don’t remember having these tomato balls, but we will certainly try this recipe. So, when do you post the recipe for those spicy coconut mojitos?!

  4. I have never heard of tomato balls before, but I love tomatoes and I need to make these! They look so tasty! I love that you are posting all these Greek recipes! Since, unfortunately, I will probably not be going to Greece anytime soon, I need to start making some of these and pretend I am there! I’ll also stare at your photos while I eat :)

  5. oh my word. Those photos are breathtaking. You’re killing me. Between the pictures and food, I cant decide what makes me want to visit more! Definitely adding it to the list,hopefully sooner than later!
    I LOVE these tomato balls! I know my husband would too, I just kind of freak out about frying things. BUt I feel like I must get over it, these sound SO good!

    • You would just die there Alaina!! These aren’t actually deep-fried, just crisped up in some olive oil, so no need to be afraid!! :)

  6. I am so jealous of your trip! Those photos are just unreal! And these tomato balls sound so interesting. I love the tomato and basil combo and they sound like the perfect appetizer or even meal! Pinned :)

  7. Ok, you convinced me… I need to vacation in Greece AND I need these tomatokeftedes in my life. I have no idea how to pronounce them, but I need them haha. They look amazing. And yes, I too would want them drenched in Tzaziki sauce as well!!!

  8. These photos want me to start planning for our vacation too!! I am dreaming with all these gorgeous pics!

  9. I love any kind of fritter, and these look amazing! It looks like you had an incredible time. We got married abroad and I looked at Greece but my husband has Celiac so his diet really limits our travel opportunities. Hopefully one day we will be able to go!

  10. omgg you are making me miss Greece like CRAZY! beautiful pictures and I am so glad you had such a wonderful time :) looks like you took a piece of the Greek life home with you, because my god do these tomato balls look incredible!!! exactly how they are in Greece, I am tres impressed lady!

  11. Wow, these pictures are really making me want to go to Greece! It looks like such a gorgeous place! I’ve never heard of tomato balls, but now I’m intrigued. This one’s on my to do list.

  12. OMG!! These pictures are beyond beautiful! Girl I was scroll up and down between the food and the beautiful pictures. Everything looks perfect!

  13. Wow I love your pictures, my mouth was watering as I scrolled down. I’m a big tomato fan so I gotta make these. I need to go gluten-free though, so I shall try them with my GF AP mix, hopefully they will work out. What a great idea for fresh summer tomatoes though!
    Looks like an incredible trip to Greece, too! I’ve never been but now I really want to. Thank you! It looks like you stayed in a fabulous place too.
    Just found your blog fairly recently and I must tell you that it’s one of the best food blogs I’ve seen (and I’m an avid foodie so I have quite a few faves:). I like the style and your writing is very casual and fun to read, and your photos all make me hungry (haha!) You’ve now been bookmarked, I can’t wait to try these tomatoes, I will let you known ho the GF flour works out in case you have any other (celiac) readers interested in trying them out.
    Thanks again!

  14. I was interested in these great looking fried tomatoes- and then I scrolled down to your Greece pics and couldn’t believe my eyes! Wow! What a magical place! And just beautiful photography.

  15. Oh my, these sound fabulous. Never heard of them before and I love Greek food. Your pics are amazing too, glad you had a good trip.

  16. These sound SO GOOD! It looks like you had an amazing time in Greece – what beautiful pictures! I’m glad you had a good time (and are bringing all the delicious recipes home to share with us – you rock!)

  17. I didn’t even know you could prepare tomatoes like this. WHAT HAVE I BEEN MISSING ALL MY LIFE?! :)

  18. Chelsea says:

    Am I blind?! I can’t seem to find the recipe :(

  19. Hello there, I finally got a chance to make these and they were absolutely delicious!!! Thank you again for the recipe. I just came back from a trip to the deep south and tried Fried Green Tomatoes (which I’ve never had before and loved!) and these were quite similar to those. They were easy to make and very yummy. I made them gluten free by using a gluten free flour (a mix of br rice flour, pot starch and tapioca) and it worked like a charm. I coated them in a bit of parmesan too before frying to add a bit to the breading coating as I was afraid my GF flour may be a bit bland.
    I have to stay away from yogurt as it gives me gut issues (oddly enough) so I made a feta cheese mix (feta, cream cheese and bit of milk) for drizzling on top…so good!! Thanks again.

    • Oh lovely Dana!! I’m so glad you liked them! That feta cheese mix sounds awesome!! Thank you so much for sharing, I hope you come back!

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