Soft and Crunchy Eggplant

eggplant2 3.30.13I decided to make eggplant balls. I hadn’t made them in a very long time. And with eggplant on my mind, they were sounding really good.

And so simple. An eggplant, some seasonings, a little filler.

Specifically…

1 medium eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds, cooked in salted boiling water for about 5 minutes, til tender, then drained in a colander to cool. After squeezing out excess water, you can dice the slices, or, if you have a food processor, you might puree some and then dice some, for a combo texture. I mashed it with my hands and got a nice pulpy texture.

To the eggplant, I added 1 minced garlic clove, a teaspoon of dried thyme, 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese, ground black pepper, and 1/2 cup of bread crumbs.

I used dried thyme, but this is definitely a nice place for chopped parsley and/or chopped basil. I almost bought some, but decided to see what might still be kicking in the garden instead, see if the sage might be a possibility. But no, it was kind of wintered out. And I didn’t see any oregano, which sometimes winters through, too. So I went with dried thyme.

The 1/2 cup of bread crumbs seemed to be enough to create something that would hold together, but, of course, this is something to play by ear. You might need more or less, depending on preference and the size of the eggplant.

After tasting for seasoning, I added one egg yolk. I used just the yolk, because it was my way of getting half an egg’s worth. A whole egg would’ve been too much moisture for my mix!

I placed the bowl with the mix in the fridge to set. You could also shape the balls first, then put them in the fridge to set. For about a half hour to an hour.

I brought about a 1/4-inch of oil in a pan to heat over medium heat. I used a mix of canola and extra virgin olive oil. If I’d had just a plain olive oil, that’s what I would’ve used, but since I didn’t, I mixed the other two.

While that heated up, I shaped the eggplant mix into small balls and rolled in plain bread crumbs to coat. I turned the oven on to low, so I’d have a warm place to keep one batch while I did the second batch, and lined a baking sheet with paper towels.

Each batch only took about five minutes or so to cook, turning them around in the oil as they browned. Then I drained them on the baking sheet and put in the oven to keep warm.

And I sliced lemon wedges to serve alongside.

I got to serve the eggplant balls on a beautiful platter a friend brought me back from Germany when she was in Europe several years ago, which has, yup, images of eggplant on it!

I am so glad I made these. I’d forgotten how good they are, all soft and pulpy on the inside, and that nice crunchiness on the outside.

I think I’ll be making these again very soon.

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