Aubergine Fritters / Polpette di melanzane
“This Calabrian polpette (meatball) recipe doesn't actually contain any meat, containing a simple mix of aubergines, bread and pecorino cheese instead. One of the many examples of simple Calabrian home cooking, they are addictively delicious, simple to make and grace the vast majority of the region's dinner tables every Sunday. Make sure the cheese you're using is made with vegetable rennet to make this dish vegetarian. Some recipes, including this one, use parsley, while others use fresh basil. Feel free to stir basil into the mix if you like.” Valeria Necchio
- Ingredients: Serves 6
- 250g of stale white bread
- 500g (about 3 aubergines) of large aubergines, peeled, sliced, and chopped into chunks
- 100g of vegetarian pecorino, finely grated (or use a similar cheese using vegetarian rennet, if preferred)
- 1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (a small bunch will do)
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 2 eggs, beaten
- fine sea salt, as needed
- freshly ground black pepper, as needed
- 100 g fine breadcrumbs
- extra virgin olive oil, for deep-frying
- To begin, soak the bread in a bowl of water and set aside for 10 minutes, until softened. Drain the bread, squeezing out the excess liquid, and crumble into a large bowl. Set aside.
- Cook the aubergine in a steamer for 10 to 15 minutes until tender all the way through. Drain and leave to cool on a plate. Squeeze out any excess liquid with your hands over a bowl. This is crucial, you want them just barely wet at the end of the squeezing process, then mince very finely with a sharp knife or potato masher.
- Place the minced aubergines in a large bowl with the bread and mix thoroughly. Add the grated pecorino, parsley, grated garlic, eggs, salt and pepper and mix until evenly combined. Shape the fritters using your clean hands, giving them a flat round or oval shape. If the dough is too sticky, do not hesitate to add a handful of breadcrumbs to obtain an easily workable consistency.
- Spread the breadcrumbs over the base of a deep flat-bottomed bowl. Place the fritters onto the breadcrumbs and sprinkle more breadcrumbs over the top until they are completely covered.
- Finally, add the extra virgin olive oil to a frying pan or wok to a depth of 2 to 3 cm, and set over a medium heat. Sprinkle some breadcrumbs into the oil. When the oil is hot enough (170–180°C) the breadcrumbs will begin to bubble and fry. Carefully add the fritters to the olive oil and fry in batches until dark-brown and cooked through, for about 4-5 minutes. Turn them over to fry the other side until dark-brown and cooked through, for about 4-5 minutes. Drain with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper.
- Allow to cool slightly, then eat while still warm.