With torrid temperatures blazing across the country (it reached 107 degrees in San Antonio last week), steaming hot food is not necessarily anything I have been craving and probably won’t for some time. In fact, we’ve pretty much been living on ice cold, sweet and juicy yellow-flesh watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, organic grapes and this year’s fabulous crop of Fredericksburg peaches.
When we made plans to go to dinner with a friend, David and I debated about where to go and then realized that the sun would be scorching at that hour. We quickly agreed that I should cook at home where we would be able to sit back, relax and enjoy hanging out. In the air-conditioning.
Since a farmer friend bestowed a big bag of tomatoes on me, I envisioned gazpacho. Cold and refreshing. But you can’t just serve someone gazpacho for dinner, can you?
I also went home with a gorgeous organic eggplant from My Father’s Farm with the intent of making eggplant fries. There you go. A perfect summer dinner for three food-loving-yet-health-conscious-(and hungry) people.
The eggplant fries recipe came from the August 2011 issue of Bon Appetit. I love eggplant and I love french fries, so why not this fabulous spin? Instead of the dipping sauce they featured with the recipe, I decided that aioli would be the preferred accompaniment. Yes, just like those amazingly memorable french fries and special Hyde Park sauce. But with eggplant.
For some added color, texture and nutrients, I cut up a squash, zucchini and golden zucchini. As I expected, the platter of fried veggies disappeared quickly. Dunked in the luscious and creamy aioli, this really hit the spot on a hot, hot summer night.
So the next time you think you want french fries, use eggplant instead for a light and refreshing alternative to an all-American classic. And whip up some aioli to use in place of ketchup. You’ll feel so Mediterranean.
The Cowgirl Gourmet adapted this recipe from the August 2011 issue of Bon Appetit
Crisp, light and healthy. Gluten-free, vegan and yummy! Replace the standard french fry with these and you’ll have a new lease on life. You can also add batons of zucchini and/or squash to the mix, if desired. Serve with aioli.
1 1 lb. eggplant, cut crosswide into 1/2″ rounds then into 1/2″-thick strips (zucchini, squash)
Vegetable oil for frying
1 cup rice flour
2 Tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 Tablespoons za’atar
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more from seasoning
Lemon chunks for squeezing over fries, garnish
Place eggplant in a large bowl, add 2 cups ice and enough water to cover. Place a plate on top off eggplant to weigh it down. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours.
Pour about 2″ of oil in a deep pot and heat oil to 325 degrees.
Whisk rice flour, lemon zest, za’atar, garlic powder and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Drain eggplant well and, working in batches, toss damp eggplant in the flour mixture to coat.
Working in batches, fry eggplant, until golden brown, 3-4 minutes per batch. Reheat oil to 325 degrees between batches. When cooked, transfer fries to paper towel lined plate to drain. Season with lemon juice and salt. Serve immediately with aioli.