Lesvos Eggplant Keftedes
In Greek cooking, you don't need meat to make a "kefte," or patty. There are dozens of delicious, filling vegetable keftedes and fritters, both baked and fried, all over Greece. Here is one of my favorites. To find some of the artisinal Greek products you'll need to make this, visit my online shop here, where you'll discover a host of lovingly curated Greek ingredients.
- 5 Japanese or other long eggplant variety each about 6 inches / 15 cm long
- 2 large eggs slightly beaten
- 1 ½ cups grated aged Greek myzithra kefalotyri or other hard grating cheese, such as regato or pecorini
- 1 heaping tablespoon dried Greek oregano
- 1 cup chopped fresh mint
- 3 to 4 tablespoons sour trahana or fine bulgur
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 to 8 tablespoons plain dried breadcrumbs as needed
- 1 to 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour for dredging
- Olive or vegetable oil for frying*
Trim and peel the eggplants. Bring a pot of water to a boil, season with salt, and blanch the eggplants until soft. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Mash the eggplant with a fork and add the eggs, grated cheese, oregano, mint, 3 tablespoons trahana, salt, and pepper. Add the breadcrumbs judiciously, starting with a couple of tablespoons and adding only if the mixture is loose and needs to come together to hold its shape. You can also add another tablespoon of trahana or bulgur.
Take a tablespoon at a time and shape the eggplant mixture into patties about 1 1/2 –inches / 4-cm in diameter. Place on a platter or baking sheet or sheets and refrigerate for 30 minutes, to help firm them up even further.
Place a cup of flour on a flat dish. Heat two inches of oil in large, deep frying pan. Test the heat with a small cube of bread, which should sizzle and brown lightly when tossed in; remove it. Lightly dredge the patties, in batches, and, using a spatula or slotted spoon, slide them into the hot oil, careful not to crowd the pan. Fry until lightly browned on one side and flip carefully, to brown on the other side. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining patties, and replenish the oil if necessary.
You can also bake the patties. To do so, preheat the oven to 350F/170C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Shape the patties as above and refrigerate to firm up, as above. Place on the baking sheets and bake, turning to brown on both sides, for about 15 minutes, or until cooked and golden. Remove, cool slightly and serve.