If you know me at all you know I have a serious weakness for tomatoes…I will eat a tomato like an apple, and often do; I will also enjoy a tomato salad at breakfast, lunch and dinner….wouldn’t anyone? I have never understood those people who discard a plump and juicy tomato slice on a sandwich like it was a piece of parsley garnish. I remember many years ago while working at KTVT-TV for Positively Texas – our crew would feast on platters of sandwiches after each show, of which the best part for me where the mounds of tomatoes added to the platters as garnish…I was completely content.
While traveling through Santorini in Greece we enjoyed tomatoes in every style, as the island is known for their delicious, sweet and juicy grape tomatoes, which grow all over the island in its rich volcanic soil. Though perfect on their own, added to these Domatokeftethes, or tomato fritters, their flavors were raised to a new level…anything fried usually benefits from this. I tried my own version the other night, creating a creamy cucumber filled Tzatziki to pair with the light and airy, tomato and herb filled fritters. Great for your summer picnic and patio days, especially while drinking a steely, mineral filled Assyrtico.
Tomato Fritters or “Domatokeftethes”
I used both beefsteak and grape tomatoes in these; the ones we had in Santorini had huge grape tomatoes in them, which was my inspiration. I fried them in a skillet instead of a deep fryer (unlike the deep fried ones we had in Santorini) so the tomatoes didn’t break down as much, but they were still delicious. You can easily just double the amount of beefsteak tomatoes instead to make sure the batter comes together well and the tomatoes cool through.
1 zucchini, grated
1 beefsteak tomato, grated
1/2 small yellow onion, grated
1/2 leek, white parts only, chopped very fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pint grape tomatoes – cut the large ones in half, keep the small ones whole
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1 1/2 cups self rising flour
1 large egg
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, we like a little heat)
Canola or vegetable oil
Grate the tomato, onion and zuccini, using a vegetable grater or microplane, over a mixing bowl, making sure to capture all the juices from the veggies (this will help moisten the batter.) Stir in the leek, garlic, lemon, grape tomatoes and the herbs. Season with red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to your taste (about a half teaspoon to a teaspoon of each.) Stir in the flour. Whisk the egg and add it to the mixture, stirring well to combine everything.
Let rest for about 10 minutes then pour about 2 -3 inches of oil into a medium skillet and set the heat to medium-high. Test the oil with a bit of the batter to see when it is hot enough to fry the fritters. When the oil is hot add heaping spoonfuls of batter into the oil and fry on each side until golden brown (about 3-5 minutes per side, depending on your burner.) Remove from the oil and let drain on a paper towel and season immediately with a bit of extra salt. After the fritters have drained some of the oil off move them onto a baking rack and place in a warm oven until ready to serve. Serve on a large platter with tzatziki sauce or plain Greek yogurt.
2 cups plain Greek yogurt (we used non-fat)
1 English cucumber, peeled and cut in half and then quarters (if you can’t find an English cucumber a regular cucumber will work, just cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds)
2 tablespoons fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh mint, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
Add 3/4 of the cucumber to a food processor with the garlic, herbs and lemon and grate together for about 60 seconds to make sure the mixture is well chopped. Pour out into a mixing bowl. Strain any liquid off the yogurt and add to the mixing bowl. Season with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir to incorporate the flavors. Mince the remaining 1/4 cucumber and stir in (you could add the whole cucumber at the beginning as well, but we liked the additional texture adding the minced cucumber at the end gave the sauce.)
Cover the bowl with a paper towel, resting the towel on top of the sauce to absorb any juices that may come off of the yogurt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. When ready to use give the tzatziki one final taste and adjust any final seasonings. Serve with the hot fritters, on its own with pita or naan bread, or on top of roasted veggies like roasted beets or roasted fennel.
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