Before all the eggplant is gone from the local markets, I wanted to share this unusual recipe with you all. I was inspired to first make it years ago when I was trying to get my then much younger children to eat more veggies. In the spirit of Jessica Seinfeld (and her Deceptively Delicious cookbook), I thought if the eggplant was in “french fry” form, maybe my kids wouldn’t notice that they were actually eating EGGPLANT (gasp!). And for years as long as I didn’t tell them, they ate this happily with a side of homemade tomato sauce for dipping. Fast forward to now and my daughter absolutely LOVES eggplant. She specifically requested this while she was home from college this summer. We made it together and literally had to stop each other from eating them all so that we would have some for dinner. I’m sure from a health standpoint the frying cancels out some of the benefits of the eggplant, but it still counts as a vegetable at my house. Let me know what you think and if any of your picky eaters will try these “crazy fries”!
1 medium eggplant or about one pound
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2/3 cup milk or whatever is safe for you to use (soy, almond, coconut, etc.)
1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
Vegetable or olive oil
Tomato sauce for dipping
Peel the eggplant, if desired (I never do) and cut into finger sized strips.
(The original recipe says to sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt on the eggplant strips, let stand for 30 minutes, then rinse and pat dry. I NEVER do this. I don’t find eggplant to be bitter, especially in season, and I’m always in way too much of a hurry to add an extra 30 minutes to my meal prep. I’ve never had a bad batch or felt that this step was needed, but I wanted to share this tidbit since it is part of the original recipe.)
Combine the flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, baking powder, and next 7 ingredients in a pie plate; stir until blended and smooth.
Pour enough oil into a dutch oven or deep frying pan to generously cover the bottom of the pan. Heat on medium to medium high heat. Dip strips into the batter, coating well. Fry the eggplant 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain well on paper towels. Serve immediately with a side of spaghetti and tomato sauce for dipping.
Adapted from Southern Living, 30 Years of Our Best Recipes, 2000