…as a kid growing up in Greece, summer was synonymous to going to the beach.
Only hope for escaping the heat of the day was swimming.
The cold water against our bodies was greatly welcomed.
We would swim for hours at a time.
Because the sun was so hot, we could either go early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
My favorite was afternoon.
Sitting in the hot sun, we would get out our buckets and spades and start building elaborate cities.
With our bodies covered in sand, we would run to the water to wash up.
In the water the games were endless…swimming competition, gymnastics routines, water volleyball, diving for treasures, the list could go on!
The only way our mum could get us out of the water, was by luring us with food.
She would call us over, wrap us up in fuzzy towels and guide us to our old beat-up car.
On the hood of the car she would neatly arrange tupperware of leftover food.
We would then climb up and sit around the open containers, facing the sea and seeing the sunset.
With our towels wrapped around our salty bodies, our feast would begin.
Most favorite food for eating at the beach would be gemista and fried meatballs (keftedakia)…with fried meatballs taking the lead!
They were so delicious we thought of it more like a treat rather that a meal.
My mum would count how many each of us could have so there was no fighting.
Fried meatballs will remind me of my summers in Crete for ever…
A typical Greek “mamadistiko” dish, that is a staple favorite of children, but also makes an excellent meze (or mezze).
Meze is a selection of small dishes that go well with alcoholic drinks, like ouzo, raki, tsipouro etc.
What I love about this recipe is its simplicity.
It takes about 30 minutes to make from start to finish, and the final result is always perfect.
The ingredients are simple and are almost always at hand.
The secret for success comes from the freshness of the ingredients.
That’s why we choose fresh mint as opposed to dry one and good quality ripe tomatoes instead of canned.
The fresh mint gives our fried meatballs their wonderful taste, while the ripe tomatoes help keep moisture in our mix.
Our binding agent for keeping everything together is the soaked bread and the egg.
These two ingredients will ensure that our fried meatballs stay nice and round while we fry them.
The reason we add a little lukewarm water at the end of the procedure is to keep the mixture airy and juicy.
We usually pair them with a traditional greek salad or boiled leafy greens (“horta vrasta” in greek).
The leafy greens that are in abundance this season are vlita (amaranthus blitum or viridis).
Vlita grow from the beginning of May up to the end of August and are among the most favorite leafy greens here in Greece.
We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!
If you give this recipe a try, be sure to let us know!
Leave us a comment, pin it, or take a picture and tag it #cookouvagia on Instagram!
- 500gr. ground beef chuck
- 1 small tomato, pureed
- 1 medium onion, pureed
- 1 egg
- 200gr. white bread, crusts removed
- 2-3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 5-6 sprigs fresh spearmint, finely chopped
- 1 cup sunflower oil (for frying)
- 1kg. leafy greens (amaranthus blitum or viridis, dandelions, spiny chicory etc.),trimmed and rinsed well with cold water and vinegar
- Red wine vinegar or lemon juice
- Extra virgin olive oil
Soak bread in water in a medium bowl for 5 minutes.
Take a big bowl and add the ground beef meat, tomato, onion, egg, olive oil and fresh spearmint.
Use your hands to squeeze the excess water out of the bread and add it to the bowl.
Combine all the ingredients with your hands until just blended together, but do not overwork!
While you combine all the ingredients don’t forget to wet your hands with water and add a couple of tablespoons to your mixture.
This will make your beef meatballs super juicy!
At this point, you can cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate the mixture for some hours.
This is an optional step of the recipe which adds more taste to the final result, as flavors and aromas have enough time to mix in the fridge.
Anyway, even if you do not follow this step your beef meatballs will undoubtedly be super tasty!
So, wet your hands again and form bite-size round meatballs.
Arrange them in a big platter.
In a big frying pan add the sunflower oil and heat it over medium heat.
Carefully place some meatballs in the pan and cook for a few minutes on each side until nicely browned.
With the help of two tablespoons, wait until one side is browned and only then flip over on the other side.
Each batch should take about 10 minutes to fry.
Remove the first batch of meatballs with a slotted spoon and arrange them on a platter with kitchen paper so they strain from the excess oil.
Sprinkle some salt and continue with the second batch until all the mixture is finished.
Meatballs should be crunchy on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside.
Whatever you do, don’t overcook them!
Add water in a big pot.
Bring to the boil and add some salt.
Add the leafy greens and boil for 5 minutes until they’re cooked “al dente”.
Strain and transfer them in a big platter or salad bowl.
Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice.
Season according to your taste.
Serve them hot or in room temperature along with the fried meatballs!