Appetizers,  Eggplant,  Gluten-free,  Vegan

Eggplant Fries with Two Dips – Spicy Mayo and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Seriously, if you have not tried eggplant fries, you don’t know what you are missing!  Eggplant fries have a soft, yet meaty texture,  crisped up on the outside for a nice bite and hold up well for dipping.  I have served these as a side with a veggie burger and as an appetizer, but never as a leftover as they are the first to go every time!

I introduced this recipe on my blog in June, 2011 during a visit from my friend Ayesha and her boys.  After a day at the beach and ordering over-priced, greasy zucchini fries at a beachside restaurant for lunch, our minds were working together to make this again, less the grease.  Not having any zucchini at home, it actually ended being so more a better choice to use eggplant.  The water content in zucchini makes for limp fries, while the eggplant holds true to a “French fry” consistency.  And no bitterness as many times associated with eggplant.

Ayesha prepared the spicy mayo dipping sauce which I’ve used many, many times.  This time around, in my “veganizing” I decided to make a roasted red pepper hummus dip because as you will note in the recipe swap, I replaced the egg whites for aquafaba, the liquid found in garbanzo beans. Exactly, the liquid you normally dump down the drain can be used as a vegan substitute for egg whites.  I learned this amazing discovery from from a French cook, Joel Roessel’s blog, Plant Revolution, on how to make vegan meringues.  I follow the measurements of 2 tablespoons aquafaba equals 1 egg white.

There is probably one step in the process that can be considered tedious, as in dipping a fry at a time into a bread crumb mixture, but so worth it in the end!  I actually find the process meditative, allowing my mind to drift wherever, reviewing the day, planning my evening, methodically picking up one fry at a time, rolling in the crumbs, placing on the rack, repeat.

Eggplant Fries with Spicy Mayo and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

For the eggplant fries:

1 large firm eggplant, peeled and cut in half, then in slices and then into sticks

6 tablespoons aquafaba, slightly beaten with a fork

2 cups mix of bread crumbs and Panko (I will use gluten-free Panko, running it through the food processor to make a fine crumb which adheres best)

1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika

1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper (to your taste)

1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

¼ cup nutritional yeast

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Olive oil to drizzle over eggplant, very lightly

For the spicy mayo:

4 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise

2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce

For the roasted red pepper hummus:

1 14oz can garbanzo beans, drained – liquid saved – I used 2 tablespoons in the preparation of the hummus

1 large roasted red pepper

1 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon tahini

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Prepare a baking sheet with a rack on top.  This allows the “fries” to bake all around and not get soggy.  Preheat oven to 420 degrees. 

In a medium size bowl, mix together the bread crumb/panko mix, seasoning and nutritional yeast.  Place all eggplant fries into a large bowl and pour over the aquafaba gently mixing to ensure all fries are covered well.  Using a fork, place one or two into the bread crumb mix bowl and gently coat each “fry”.  Place the eggplant evenly onto the rack, close but not overlapping.  Lightly drizzle olive oil over the eggplant.  Bake for 20 minutes, turn the “fries” and bake until crisp about another 10 minutes.  For extra crispiness, turn on the broiler for just a few minutes, about 2 minutes.

For the spicy mayo dipping sauce:  combine the vegan mayonnaise and sriracha sauce and mix well.  Adjust spiciness to individual taste.

For the roasted red pepper hummus:  Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend to a smooth consistency.  If necessary, add more aquafaba.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.

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