180 mlextra-virgin olive oil2large onions, finely chopped6large vine-ripened tomatoes70 gm(¼ cup) tomato paste1 kgminced veal¾ cup(firmly packed) each flat-leaf parsley and mint, finely chopped50 gm(1/3 cup) plain flour, plus extra for dusting 3 tsp eachground cumin, ground cinnamon and ground nutmegFor shallow-frying:light olive oil8vine leaves preserved in brine
Heat 60ml extra-virgin olive oil in a large, deep-sided frying pan over medium heat, add onion and sauté until golden (12-15 minutes). Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 170C. Blanch tomatoes until skins split (30 seconds), then refresh. Peel, halve over a bowl, discard seeds and reserve liquid. Combine 60ml liquid (reserve remainder) with tomato paste and 125ml water in a large bowl. Stir well to dissolve tomato paste, then add veal, herbs, flour, spices and cooked onion, season well, mix thoroughly and refrigerate to rest (1 hour).
Meanwhile, place tomato halves cut-side down in a roasting pan lined with baking paper, drizzle with 60ml extra-virgin olive oil, season to taste and roast until starting to caramelise (30-40 minutes). Cool slightly, then pulse in a food processor with remaining tomato liquid until coarsely chopped. Season to taste and keep warm.
Meanwhile, heat 1cm olive oil in a deep-sided frying pan until hot. Add vine leaves one at a time and fry, turning once, until crisp (1-2 minutes), then set aside to drain on absorbent paper.
Shape veal mixture into walnut-sized keftedes and place on a tray (makes about 40 balls). Heat remaining extra-virgin olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Dust keftedes with flour and fry in batches, turning occasionally, until golden and cooked (6-8 minutes). Serve hot with roast tomato sauce and crisp vine leaves.
This recipe is from the March 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.
“At a charity function I did with Jonathan, I asked him to come up with an idea for an appetiser and he suggested keftedes,” Kyritsis says. “They always remind me of hearty home cooking so when Jonathan came up with these light and fragrant little mouthfuls instead, I was delighted. He said he learned to make them this way from his aunty Diana. Well, she must have been a wonderful cook.”