These delicious little fritters combine eggplant (aubergine if you’re reading in the UK), herbs, Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs, and contain a luscious surprise in the middle – melted, smoked mozzarella.
You need to get the moisture out of the eggplants first by slicing and salting, leaving them to sit for half an hour. You then need to gently bake them in the oven for an hour before you can add them to the ingredients to make the fritters. Yes, it’s time consuming, but the result is so worth it!
Preparing the eggplant:
Preheat oven to 350°F/ 160C fan/gas mark 4.
Cut the eggplants crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place on layers of paper towels. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt; let stand 30 minutes. This will start to remove the moisture and bitterness of the eggplants.
Brush 2 large baking sheets with oil. Pat the eggplant slices dry and arrange in single layer on prepared sheets.
Brush lightly with oil. Bake until eggplant is tender and dry, which is about 1 hour. Cool slightly and then chop coarsely.
Making the fritters:
Whisk 1 egg, grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, parsley, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in medium bowl.
Stir in chopped eggplant (mixture will be soft). Spread 1 cup breadcrumbs on plate.
Whisk 1 egg and the flour in together in another bowl. Press and shape eggplant mixture into 1 1/4 -inch-diameter balls, and press 1 piece of smoked mozzarella into center of each ball.
Wrap the mixture around the mozzarella cube until it’s completely covered. Dip balls, 1 at a time, into egg batter; roll in breadcrumbs to coat.
Pour enough oil into large skillet to reach depth of 1/4 inch and heat over medium-high heat.
Working in batches, add balls to skillet and sauté until browned, turning often for about 4 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt and serve however you fancy!
To tell if the oil is hot enough to fry the fritters, drop a small cube of bread in when you think it’s ready. If the bread browns and floats quickly, the oil is ready, if it sinks and the fat isn’t bubbling around it, leave the oil to heat for longer.
If you want to save time making these fritters, prepare the eggplants the day before cooking, and keep the dried eggplants refrigerated until you are ready to cut them up and use them.