The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

Greek-style tomato fritters

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I grow a modest amount of fruit and vegetables in my back garden. This year the list has included cherries, pears, strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, raddichio, peas, beans, courgettes, red onion squash, cabbage, chickpeas, leeks, kale and chard.

Aside from the sheer pleasure which gardening provides, I also know exactly how each plant has been grown: carefully and tenderly nurtured. Of course, I grow only a tiny proportion of the fruit and vegetables that we eat. Most of the rest comes via a weekly veg box from a local organic farm.

The only additions I put into the soil in my garden, apart from water, are home-made compost and – during the height of the growing season – a weekly dose of organic seaweed solution.

I’m sure the food I grow and eat tastes good in part because I know that it contains only natural goodness.

By contrast, non-organic, commercially grown fruit and vegetables are grown routinely with a variety of agrochemicals. As a result, 30% of fruit and vegetables for sale in UK supermarkets contain traces of glyphosate, as does non-organic bread. Glyphosate is a herbicide which the World Health Organisation has labelled “probably carcinogenic“.

Significant residues of other pesticides and herbicides are also to be found in non-organic fresh produce.

Those fresh fruit and vegetables which have been found consistently to have the highest levels of pesticide and herbicide residues include citrus fruits, strawberries, spinach, pears, pre-packed salad leaves, cucumber and tomatoes (non-organic tomatoes can be treated with up to thirty different pesticides, which penetrate the skin into the fruit itself).

Those fruit and vegetables with the lowest levels of agrochemicals include beetroot, onions, figs, mushrooms and corn on the cob.

Organic does not always mean more expensive, but even if it does it seems wise to pay extra for organic wherever we can, especially when it comes to those worst offenders. We only have one body, we really should be careful about what we put into it.

It’s been an astonishingly good summer for growing outdoor tomatoes. The yield from just a few tomato plants in my garden has far surpassed my hopes as well as my expectations.

Here, I am using some of my lovely matina heritage tomatoes to make some simple but very more-ish tomato fritters.

This quick and simple vegan dish, based on a classic Greek called keftedes, would work well as a light lunch or a dinner party starter, accompanied by the vegan tzatziki sauce and a simple green salad.

tomato fritters


750 g ripe tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and finely chopped
120 g organic self-raising flour (use GF flour for gluten-free version)
3 spring onions (scallions), white and green parts, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsh sea salt

for the tzatziki

250 g organic vegan yoghurt (I used coconut)
1 cucumber, peeled and deseeded with a melon baller or spoon
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of half a lemon
pinch sea salt
pinch smoked paprika

to serve

lemon wedges


1. For the tzatziki, grate the cucumber then place in a clean tea towel and squeeze firmly to remove as much moisture as possible. Tip the yoghurt into a bowl and stir in the cucumber, garlic, olive oil, mint, sea salt and lemon juice. Sprinkle the smoked paprika across the top. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

2. Place the chopped tomato, mint, parsley, oregano, spring onions and sea salt in a mixing bowl. Sift the flour into the bowl and stir until the mixture comes together in a thick, sticky batter.

3. Pour the olive oil into a frying pan and place over a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully place spoonfuls of the fritter mixture into the pan. Do this in batches to avoid crowing the pan. Cook the keftedes for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown on one side, then carefully flip over and cook the other side for the same amount of time. Remove from the pan, drain on kitchen paper and serve whilst still warm, accompanied by the tzatziki and some lemon wedges.

Categories: dairy free, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian

Tags: , , ,

15 replies

  1. How I wholeheartedly agree with your comments, Steve.
    A recently published book has thrown a new light on furthering the ever-growing evidence of the harm that the over three million registered artificial chemicals are, or may well be, causing all of life on earth – including humans.
    It shows that Rachel Carson’s warnings of her Silent Spring have been ignored. I didn’t realise that DDT, for example, far from being banned worldwide is still in use in Africa.
    The book was written as a scientific explanation for the explosion of obesity that we are all aware of. And boy does it contain a frightening message for us all, overweight or not.
    It’s “The Obesogen Effect: Why We Eat Less and Exercise More but Still Struggle to Lose Weight” by Bruce Blumberg.
    He’ll surely be Monsanto’s next target for a subpoena!

    • Thanks for your comments, Malcolm, and also for drawing attention to the Bruce Blumberg book. This will be added to my reading list.
      Sadly, yes, DDT is still being used in some of the poorer regions of the world, including North Korea and parts of India. I would anticipate Roundup taking even longer to eradicate than DDT – assuming there is eventually a worldwide ban – since Monsanto have successfully marketed a range of widely-adopted genetically modified crops under the banner “Roundup Ready”. These, of course, have been engineered specifically to be used alongside Roundup. Steve

  2. I love tomatoes and look forward to growing my own this Aussie summer. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Thank you Peggy. I hope you will think of those of us on the other side of the world who will be facing the bleak midwinter as your lovely tomato crop begins to ripen. Steve x

  3. I had read about strawberries and spinach having the highest traces of chemicals in them which is why I always eat those organic. I agree that we should try to eat organic as much as possible. This recipe looks fantastic and I’m going to try it with the last of my heirloom tomatoes. The soup I made previously from your blog was delicious.

  4. Out of interest, why do you add seaweed solution to your soil?

  5. Looking at the ever increasing health problems in our surrounds so caused by our ‘modern’ diets I do worry for our children and theirs . . . . that Roundup is still allowed to be used anywhere in the world is lunacy and criminality ! Love growing as much as I can on my own and have always been a keen advocate of seaweed fertilizers, Make tzatziki every 2nd-3rd day at home, often using it as spread instead of butter and can’t wait to try your fritters . . . thanks !

    • Hi Eha. I agree. Isn’t it bizarre that it is now such a challenge to source wholsome, healthy, additive-free and chemical-free food?
      All the more reason for growing your own when and where you can.
      I do hope you enjoy these lovely fritters. Steve x


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