I always joke with my baby sister about her being a picky eater. Because she is. So anytime she comes to visit, I make it my mission to force her to try something new. These spicy eggplant fritters are the latest installment in "Operation Expand Hope's Horizons." Sometimes my mission fails miserably (Operation Scallop was not well-received), but this one was a success!
One of the nice things about eggplant is that it can really just take on the flavors of whatever you add to it. Some people complain that it tastes bitter, but I think that's from not removing extra moisture. For these fritters, the eggplant is first roasted whole, then the "meat" is drained, mixed with all kinds of yummy spices and flavors, coated in bread crumbs (or panko, if you're out of bread crumbs), then pan-fried. It is a little labor-intensive, but the fritters are really really delicious. Though the title has the word "spicy," the spice is really just a subtle lingering burn. While the recipe says to serve with lemon wedges, I served them with marinara, and we really enjoyed them that way.
The yield for this recipe is 12, but I didn't get that many. First of all, my eggplant weighed less than a pound, and I also made the fritters a bit larger than called for. Next time I make these, I will probably err on the side of a larger eggplant, probably closer to 1 1/2 pounds.
These would also be great made into bite-sized fritters and served as an appetizer, or atop a bed of tomatoes, cucumbers, and greens for a salad. I only with we had leftovers so I could try that out!
One Year Ago: French Toast Kabobs and Cornbread Salad
Spicy Eggplant Fritters
The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook
makes 9-12 fritters
- 1 large eggplant (1 1/2 pounds)
- 3 medium garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon dried hot pepper flakes
- 1 cup plain bread crumbs, plus more as needed
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- olive oil
Trim and discard the stem and peel away the skin. Place the eggplant flesh in a strainer set over a medium bowl and mash gently with a fork, picking out and discarding large clumps of seeds. Drain for 15 minutes, stirring and shaking periodically.
Combine the garlic, basil, and red pepper flakes in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse several times, scraping down the sides as needed, until the ingredients are finely chopped. Add the drained eggplant and process until smooth.
Scrape the mixture into a large bowl, and add 1/2 cup bread crumbs, egg, and cheese. Stir to combine well. If the mixture seems sticky, stir in more bread crumbs. Add salt to taste.
Spread the remaining bread crumbs on a large plate. Heat about 1/4-inch of oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.
Take 2 tablespoons of the eggplant mixture and form into a 2 1/2 inch flat patty. Coat both sides with breadcrumbs and place on a large platter. Repeat with remaining eggplant mixture and bread crumbs.
Heat the oven to 200 degrees.
Add as many fritters as will fit comfortably in the skillet, cooking 4 minutes per side, until the bottom turns a rich golden-brown, turning carefully.
Transfer the cooked fritters to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you fry the remaining fritters. Serve immediately.