There is a seemingly endless number of ways to cook and serve eggplant in Italy, and this is one of the more popular options in the south. It’s a simple recipe that requires little more than splitting the eggplants and roasting them, then scraping out the flesh and mixing it with mint and basil.
These are perfect for entertaining for two reasons: They are an ideal complement to a glass of white or sparkling wine, and they don’t have to be served hot. Room temperature is a perfectly fine option, and that will keep you from deserting your guests to fry batch after batch.
- Yield: 6 to 8 Servings
- A few cups of canola oil or other neutral oil,
- for brushing the baking sheet and deep-frying
- 2 large eggplants, about 1½ pounds each, split lengthwise
- 0.5 cup dried bread crumbs
- 0.25 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon basil, chiffonade
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh mint
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- All-purpose flour, for dusting
- osition a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Lightly grease a baking sheet and preheat in the oven for 5 minutes. Set the eggplant halves cut side down on the baking sheet and roast for almost 15 minutes, until the flesh is lightly charred. Turn the eggplant over, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and continue roasting until the flesh is soft, 20 to 25 more minutes. Remove from the oven and let the eggplant cool.
- When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, use a tablespoon to scoop the flesh into a colander set in the sink. Discard the skin. Let the eggplant drain to release excess moisture, stirring it periodically with a wooden spoon.
- When the eggplant has cooled to room temperature, transfer it to a cutting board and coarsely chop it, so that no large pieces remain. Transfer it to a large mixing bowl, add the bread crumbs, cheese,
- garlic, mint, parsley, lemon zest, and eggs, and season with salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix and gently squeeze the ingredients together into a uniform batter. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours so the dry ingredients can hydrate.
- To fry the fritters, fill a heavy-bottomed pot to a depth of 2 inches with oil. Clip a deep-fry thermometer to the side of the pot and heat over medium heat to 350°F (see No Thermometer?). Line a large plate with paper towels.
- Meanwhile, remove the batter from the refrigerator. Dust a baking sheet with flour. Use a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon to scoop up small portions of dough, roll them into 1-inch balls between the palms of your hands, and arrange them on the baking sheet; dust your hands with flour to prevent the balls from sticking. You should have about 25 balls. Gently roll the balls in the flour to dust them all over.
- Fry the balls in small batches, carefully lowering them into the oil, until lightly golden brown and slightly puffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the fritters to the paper-towel-lined plate and sprinkle at once with salt. Let the oil return to 350°F between batches.
- Arrange the fritters on a serving platter or in a small bowl and serve warm or at room temperature.