Keftedes or keftedakia are small balls of meat usually made with pork or beef but can also be made vegetarian with seasonal vegetables such as tomatoes or courgettes. Traditionally fried in oil, they can also be grilled and are loved by both kids and adults alike. They make for a simple and inexpensive weekday meal and are convenient for lunchbox leftovers or healthy on-the-go snacks.
This lighter version of keftedes (I’m Cypriot so I will use the Cypriot word) is made with skinned salmon fillets and are grilled in the oven instead of fried. It’s fairly quick to prepare if you have a food processor but can also be made by grating or finely chopping all the ingredients. Paired with a favourite vegetable, children who love fish will enjoy these tasty little balls.
In the recipe below, I’ve used skinned and deboned salmon. Salmon and wild fatty fish are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids which our bodies and especially our brains need for optimum health. Although wild caught fish is best in flavour and nutrition, there is also some concern around toxins in wild caught fish. My family eat fish twice a week, alternating between salmon, white mild fish such as local sea bream and sardines or mackerel. For younger children who aren’t fond of stronger tasting fish, start with milder white fish and salmon. My six year old has only recently taken a liking to sardines so it pays to be patient when introducing new stronger flavours.
approx. 750g salmon fillet, skinned and roughly chopped
3 medium potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 slice stale sourdough bread
handful of fresh parsley
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried mint or a few leaves of fresh mint
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil for brushing
Turn the oven onto the grill setting and line two baking sheets with baking paper.
Place the potatoes, onion, garlic, bread, herbs and seasoning into a food processor and pulse until everything is finely chopped. Add the salmon and egg and pulse until the mixture is thick.
Take tablespoon fulls of mixture, roll into balls and place onto the prepared baking sheets. If the mixture gets too sticky, dip your fingers in a little water. Brush olive oil on the top of every ball and grill for about 20 minutes, turning once halfway, until golden. Enjoy warm with freshly squeezed lemon juice.