Eggplant croquettes

I continue to be smitten with Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. It is now my go-to cookbook for vegetarian dishes that surprise, tantalise and beguile. I so much prefer how eggplants are called across in the continents, aubergine. Sounds so much more posh and exotic.

The croquettes are crunchy on the outside, giving way to a delicious smokey, savoury centre. Ottolenghi has a tarragon aioli recipe to go with the croquettes, but my lazy hack is to serve these with an easy lemony yoghurt dip.

The recipes are large enough to serve a party crowd, so I usually reduce the quantities by ⅓, which is perfect for a dinner party for 6-8.

2 large eggplants
200g cooked floury potatoes
1 small egg, beaten
120g feta, crumbled
20g parmesan, grated
¼ tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
150g dried white breadcrumbs
oil for frying (I use rice bran)

Lemony yoghurt dip
200ml yoghurt
Juice from ½ a lemon
Pinch of salt

To prepare the aubergines, the recipes asks that you roast the aubergines over a naked flame on your gas stove for 12 – 15 minutes, turning frequently until the aubergines are charred and soft. You’ll have to line the stove top with foil, as the aubergines will ooze liquid as they are roasting. My technique is lacking as I find that it takes me closer to 20 – 25 minutes to get them soft enough.

The simpler and tidier way, if you have time on your hands, is to roast them under a very hot grill (200C) for 1 hour, turning, a couple of times while cooking. Be sure to pierce the skin, as aubergines may explode. You have been warned.

Cool, then make a slit and scoop out all the soft flesh into a sieve. Drain for 30 minutes. Place into a large bowl with all the ingredients and half of the breadcrumbs. Fork through until well mixed.

Mould mix into 3 rectangulars and coat with breadcrumbs. Place on tray and chill for at least 20 minutes. If I am preparing in advance, I wrap them in plastic wrap and store in fridge for up to 2 days.

Cut into cigars and roll in more breadcrumbs. Deep-fry the croquettes in hot oil. They are ready when they float to the top and are golden in colour. Serve hot with lemony yoghurt dip.

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