Italian Home Cooking
by Julia Della Croce
A classic in the Italian fritter repertoire, these eggplant morsels are always a big hit whenever I serve them. They ooze comfort on a cold day.
• pure olive oil, for greasing pan and for frying
• 1 medium eggplant, about 1½ pounds
• 1 large egg
• 1 large clove garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 1 teaspoon minced fresh marjoram, or 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
• sea salt, to taste
• freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4 cup bread crumbs, plus 1 cup for dredging
1. Preheat an oven to 400°F.
2. Lightly oil a baking sheet with olive oil. Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise. Place each half cut side down on the pan. Roast until soft, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Use a spoon to scoop excess seeds out of the eggplant; discard them. Scoop the flesh of the eggplant out of the skin and squeeze it to get rid of as much liquid as you can; mince and place in a colander to drain until you are ready to combine it with the other ingredients.
3. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg with the garlic, parsley, marjoram, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Add the minced eggplant and the 1/4 cup bread crumbs. Thoroughly mix all the ingredients together. Chill for 1 hour or overnight.
4. Pour olive oil in a skillet to reach 1½ inches up the sides of the pan. Place over medium-high heat. Line a platter with paper towels. Spread the remaining bread crumbs on a plate. Remove the eggplant mixture from the refrigerator and, using your hands, form small balls the size of a walnut. When the oil is sizzling hot, roll the balls in the bread crumbs. Press to flatten into a cookie shape and slip them into the hot oil one at a time. Fry until crispy and golden, about 5 minutes in all, turning them over midway through cooking. Use a skimmer to transfer them to the paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt immediately. Cook all the fritters in this fashion. Serve hot.