Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Baked Eggplant "Fries"

When we were at the farmers' market looking for for some fun new ingredients last weekend I saw a few beautiful purple eggplants that I couldn't resist.  They were so pretty and purple - a beautiful glossy lavender.  I was really looking for Asian eggplant, rather than regular eggplant, but I just had to buy these guys.  And then when it came time to cook them I had no idea what to do with them.  I had a pasta recipe that called for eggplant, but we just had pasta for lunch on Sunday and then I ate the leftovers yesterday.  So we made eggplant fries.  And I found a recipe in Mario Batali's Spain: A Culinary Road Trip cookbook for Fried Eggplant.  It sounded pretty awesome.  But I didn't want to fry anything (I included the recipe anyway).  I love fried zucchini sticks, and we have had some success making baked zucchini sticks.  So we made some eggplant "fries."  For our first epic fail of the evening we whipped up a bunch of Italian-Style Breadcrumbs and then tried to coat the eggplant.  It just wasn't working.  So we looked up a recipe for baked eggplant and found one that used a Greek yogurt mixture to make the breadcrumbs stick to the eggplant.  It seemed like a great idea so we went ahead and stole it, changing the seasonings and ingredients so they better suited the flavors of our breadcrumbs.  Once we successfully breaded the eggplant fries we started trying to whip up a sauce.  Epic fail #2 of the evening - a homemade aioili.  I'm not sure exactly what went wrong, but it never emulsified and thickened.  I looked up some recipes that said you need to use room temperature egg yolks.  That was probably our first error.  Lord only knows what else we did wrong.  Epic fail #3 - I think we killed our mini-prep.  Oops.  So these eggplant fries were good.  They were interesting and a fun way to eat eggplant, but not a showstopper.  After our failure with the aioli we had to scrounge around for a sauce and we tried serving them with mayo (Alex's suggestion and it worked pretty well) and ketchup.  I think if we had the aioli it would have been really nice, but what can you do.

Recipes after the jump!

 Baked Eggplant "Fries"

2 medium eggplants
1 tbsp, plus 1 tsp evoo
1/4 cup fat free Greek yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
pinch smoked paprika
1 cup Italian-Style Bread Crumbs (see below)
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Cut the top and bottom off of your eggplant.  Cut eggplant into halves lengthwise, and then in half again lengthwise.  Cut each eggplant slice roughly into "fries."  Drizzle with evoo and season with s&p.  In a small bowl, combine Greek yogurt, lemon juice, 1 tsp evoo and a pinch of smoked paprika.  Add yogurt mixture to the eggplant and toss to evenly coat eggplant in yogurt mixture.

Combine bread crumbs and parm-reg in a shallow baking dish.  Stir to combine.  Toss eggplant in bread crumb mixture a few pieces at a time until evenly coated on all sides. 

Place breaded eggplant on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and repeat until all of the eggplaint is coated. 

Bake eggplant until golden-brown, about 10-15 minutes.

Italian-Style Bread Crumbs
The Young Man & the Sea: Recipes & Crispy Fish Tales from Esca
By Dave Pasternack & Ed Levine

1 loaf Italian bread
1 1/2 tbsp evoo
1 tsp garlic, finely diced
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 1/2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp finely ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Tear bread into roughly 2-inch chunks. Place on a baking sheet. Bake until the bread is dry and crunchy, about 15 minutes. Put the chunks in a food processor and pulse to a fine crumb. Set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp of the evoo in a small saute pan. Add the garlic and stir until it begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the bread crumbs, parsley, and the remaining 1/2 tbsp evoo. Stir well. Season with s&p and remove from the heat.

Bread crumbs can be stored in a covered container until ready to use.

Fried Eggplant
Spain: A Culinary Road Trip
By Mario Batali with Gwyneth Paltrow

6-8 cups evoo, for deep-frying
2 large eggs
1 cup dried bread crumbs
1 large eggplant, cut into 3-inch long, 1/2-inch sticks (with skin)
coarse sea salt

Heat evoo in a large deep skillet until hot (if you have a thermometer the oil should be 365 degrees F).

Beat the eggs in a wide shallow bowl.  Working in batches, dip the eggplant in the eggs and then the bread crumbs, turning to coat, and add to the hot oil, without crowding.  Fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes,

Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt, and serve.

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