Even though we are not a cooking or recipe page, we adore and cherish Santorini cuisine and its rich culinary history. That is why we have decided to lift the secret to the much-requested Santorini tomato fritters recipe or as they are called locally in Santorini, tomatokeftedes. It is the most traditional dish on the island and we are excited to share this sacred recipe with you. In fact, they are our guests’ favorites in every Santorini cooking class.
A quick throwback to the history of Santorini Tomatoes
For such a small fruit, the Santorini tomato has a mighty history. It is believed that these delicious tomatoes were brought to Santorini between 1875 and 1880. There are two versions that tell how she found her way. The first story states that Catholic monks brought the tomato seeds from Italy and the second version is that they were brought from the Suez region, where the pumice of Santorini was exported to build the canal. However they arrived is unimportant, we’re just glad that they did! Their arrival opened up a whole new world of cultivation for locals who soon learned of their ability to grow abundantly with very little water needed.
The first cherry tomato fields in Santorini were planted in 1875 on the slopes of Mount Prophet Elijah on the southeastern part of the island. At that time, the Santorini tomatoes were brought to the north of the island on foot or by donkeys, where this refreshingly juicy crop was sold to rich captains and shipowners. Soon, the local processing of Santorini tomatoes began. This led to commercial use and the islanders exported their illustrious tomato products together with the local wines. A big advantage was that the tomato harvest did not take place in the same month as the vintage, allowing the farmers to look after both products equally.
Santorini Tomatoes, a unique and healthy product to try
The high demand quickly led to the necessity of industrialization, and by 1949 nine cherry tomato processing factories were built and commissioned. Today, these factories are no longer working, but the former Nomikos factory in Vlychada has been converted into a tomato museum where you can see how the organized processing took place. When a colossal earthquake struck the island on June 9th, 1956, the Santorini tomatoes inadvertently saved the lives of many of the island’s inhabitants. At 5:12 am, most farmers were already out of the house to work on the tomato fields before the sun’s heat would make working conditions difficult. Talk about a blessed fruit!
Nowadays, only the Santorini Product Association Santo Wines and some local families still cultivate and process the tomatoes. In fact, it is important to note that the humble yet ultra-tasty Santorini cherry tomato is even award-winning! It was awarded by the European Commission as PDO – Protected Designation of Origin with the name “Tomato Santorini’s.” It is even believed to be more healthy with higher amounts of Vitamin C and antioxidants than other tomatoes, making it a key ingredient in the famed Mediterranean diet. It is a true gem of the island!
Santorini Tomato Fritters Original Recipe
The beautiful thing about Santorini tomato fritters is that the ingredients are simple and natural, which is at the heart of most Greek recipes. Many of the dishes in Santorini feature these plump tomatoes and are accompanied with only the tastiest and simple ingredients olive oil, feta and herbs. However, Santorini tomato fritters are not only the most traditional dish featuring cherry tomatoes, they might just be the most delicious. We recommend that you enjoy your Santorini tomatokeftedes with a tangy yogurt dip and a crisp glass of wine for a true Santorini culinary experience.
Santorini Tomato Fritters Recipe Ingredients
2 cups of finely chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup of grated red onion
2 tbsp of finely chopped fresh basil
4 tbsp of finely chopped fresh spearmint
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
vegetable oil for frying
Santorini Tomato Fritters Recipe Instructions
In a large bowl knead the tomatoes, onions, herbs, salt and pepper. Santorini is rich in cherry tomatoes and they are the star of our Santorini Tomato fritters, but you are welcome to use other varieties of tomatoes during your cooking process.
Crush the tomatoes by hand to make sure all the juice leaves the fruit. Maria, the charming chef of our cooking class at Faros Market tells us to give the tomatoes a nice “massage”.
Add the flour to the mixture, do it slowly, and mix well. If necessary add some more flour to get the consistency of a thick batter. Locals leave the batter in the fridge for at least one day so it becomes even tastier, but you can use it immediately if you do not have the time.
Heat enough oil in a deep pan to cover the bottom, it has to be very hot. Drop a tablespoon of the mixture in the pan and repeat until the pan is filled.
Fry on both sides until the Santorini tomato fritters are a nice golden color. After removing, let them drain on a paper towel and there you have your Santorini tomatokeftedes!
The essence of Santorini in your dish
This is the traditional Santorini Tomato Fritters recipe, just as our ancestors prepared it. Feel free to modernize it by adding some other herbs like dill or parsley, or kick up the flavor with the addition of chili peppers. Like all Greek dishes, this is best eaten with friends and family over the course of a long, leisurely meal. Kali Orexi! Enjoy your meal!
If you dream about Santorini and your summer vacation we invite you to our virtual cooking class. Learn how to make the most delicious Santorini Tomato Fritters under the guidance of one of our expert chefs. We can’t wait to welcome you into our kitchen as we celebrate Santorini cuisine and dream about the day we will all be together again!
FAQs about Santorini gastronomy
1. What food is Santorini known for?
The island cuisine is primarily famous for the Santorini tomato fritters. Other delicacies include fava which is mashed up fava beans, Greek salad with cherry tomatoes, and apochti, cured pork carpaccio. The most well-known traditional dessert is meletinia, a kind of cheese pie with sugar and mastic powder.
2. What do they grow in Santorini?
Santorini is known for its distinctive cherry tomatoes. Local produce includes fava beans, white eggplants, a rare eggplant with a sweet taste, and of course, wine. The volcanic soil gives birth to unique quality wines such as Assyrtiko and Nykteri. The most celebrated is Vinsanto, a sweet wine, also known as the “ambrosia of gods”.
3. What food to eat in Santorini?
Santorini is a gastronomical destination. Make sure to try the famous Santorini tomatokeftes, the Santorini saganaki which is fried cheese with honey, roasted greek lamp, Santorini white eggplant, and of course seafood. If you are a picky eater you will find that most restaurants serve more mainstream but still delicious dishes such as burgers, pizza, and pasta.