In anticipation of National French Fry Day, why not make these astonishingly delicious–and nutritious!– battered and baked eggplant fries! They are naturally grain-free, vegan, quick & easy to make, and have only 3 essential ingredients (eggplant, chickpea flour, & olive oil). Serve them with marinara sauce for an eggplant parm-style snack.
I found out, several weeks ago, that this coming Friday (Friday the 13th, no less) is National French Fry Day.
I’ve been patient, but time is up: I cannot wait another two days. Or one day. It’s time to get this French fry celebration started!
First up: My easy, amazing, and yes, healthy Battered & Baked Eggplant Fries. Once you taste them, you will understand my urgency in sharing the recipe :).
I’ll happily indulge in some really good potato fries if the occasion presents itself, but the two types of fries I find utterly irresistible are (1) battered fries (heaven help me) and (2) vegetable fries (e.g., sweet potato, zucchini, and avocado). These eggplant fries combine the two in the most delicious–and EASY–way!
Before proceeding, a quick overview of these nifty, nutritious fries. They are:
*High protein (5.1 g for 1/4 of the entire recipe)
*Low in fat (1 tablespoon of oil for the whole batch + I have an oil-free option)
*Good for you (make that GREAT for you; I’ll get into that in a moment)
*Minimalist (3 essential ingredients–eggplant, chickpea flour, olive oil–beyond water & salt)
*Simple to make
When I say simple, I mean it. Begin by cutting up an eggplant, lengthwise, into about 1/4-inch thick slices, and then cut the slices into “fries” shapes. There is no need to peel, salt or drain the eggplant. Huzzah!
Next, make an easy batter. Let it be known that I dread dredging (i.e., first dredge in flour, then dip in egg/egg substitute, then coat in breadcrumbs); I always end up with gooped up fingers and randomly coated food. Battering the fries is so much easier.
Chickpea flour takes center stage in the batter, and, as it does in so many of my recipes, it serves as both an egg substitute and a flour substitute in one fell swoop. The batter is relatively thick: 3/4 cup chickpea flour, 7 tablespoons of WARM water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, a bit of salt, and, if you like (I definitely like) some dried Italian herbs and garlic powder.
Be sure to use warm water when mixing the batter; cold water will result lumps. Many lumps. Warm water = smooth batter.
Dunk the fries in the batter to coat, and then lift out with a fork, just like this:
You can toss half a dozen fries into the batter at a time, and then lift each out and onto your prepared baking set up. I use a wire rack, set atop a baking sheet, but you can bake these directly on a baking sheet as well.
Whatever you do, spray or grease the rack or baking sheet; the fries lift off easily if you do, but cling like barnacles if you do not.
Once the fries are batter-coated, send them into the oven for 14 to 17 minutes until they are deep golden brown and fork-tender. Adding to the simplicity, no flipping is required!
Enjoy these soon after they come out of the oven. It’s a silly direction, as you will need no prompting to devour these immediately! I like to serve them
straight into my mouth with some marinara sauce.
Devouring these fries is a very good thing indeed, as eggplant is packed with great nutrition. Low in calories and an excellent source of fiber, eggplant is a very good source of potassium (great for recovery from warm-weather workouts), vitamins B1 and B6, and a good source of multiple minerals such as folate, magnesium and manganese.
Here’s more reason not to peel the eggplant: recently researchers have discovered that eggplant skin contains powerful antioxidants, which protect and repair cell membranes from damage. Yay!
The batter is loaded with benefits, too, including fiber and protein from the chickpea flour, and healthy fat from the olive oil.
Eat and enjoy your fries, everyone; I have more to come!
- 1 medium globe eggplant, ends trimmed
- ¾ cup chickpea flour
- 7 tablespoons warm water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (or oil of choice)
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Optional: 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs + ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Optional: Marinara sauce for dipping
- Preheat the oven to 450F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (for easier cleanup); place an ovenproof wire rack on top of pan; spray rack with cooking spray (see notes below if you do not have a wire rack; you can do this with the sheet pan alone!).
- Cut the eggplant lengthwise into ¼-inch thick slices. Cut slices crosswise into fries lengths.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the chickpea flour, warm water, oil, salt and optional herbs/spices until blended and smooth. Place 5 or 6 fries in batter, gently pressing into batter with a fork to coat. Remove fries, one at a time, with a fork, and place on prepared rack. Repeat until al fries are coated.
- Bake the fries in the preheated oven for 14 to 17 minutes until golden brown and tender. Serve immediately (with optional marinara if desired).
Cheese-y Eggplant Fries: Add a 1-1/2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast to the batter. If you eat cheese, you could add 3 tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan instead of the nutritional yeast.
Other Spice Options: These fries are also great with East Indian spices (e.g., garam masala or curry powder), Thai curry paste, smoked paprika, or cumin. Experiment with your favorite combinations!
Tip: If you do not have a large, oven-proof metal baking rack, you can bake the fries directly on a sheet pan. Just be sure to spray or grease the pan (or line with parchment or a silpat) or else these fries will stick like crazy!