Aug 19
2009

Fried Eggplant Balls with Melted Mozzarella Centers Recipe (Polpette di Melanzane)

Fried Eggplant Balls with Melted Mozzarella Center

I tried to be virtuous.  I could have figured out a way to bake these rather than fry them.  I caved.  I’m weak.  What can I say?  But let’s look at this another way.  About 2 years ago, I was terrified of deep-frying anything – not because of the extra calories, but because of an overwhelming fear of singeing my eyebrows and going up in flames à la Michael Jackson.  Well, I got over it and now there’s no stopping me.  I have fried risotto balls, donuts, pakoras, and English muffins filled with Nutella (seriously – these are drop-dead good.  I’ll share the recipe at some point).  I am happy to say that I have not ventured into the fried Twinkie and Oreo realm.  The line has to be drawn somewhere.

This recipe is slightly adapted from one I found in Marcella Hazan’s book, Marcella Cucina.  If you are not familiar with Marcella Hazan, let me introduce you to the queen of Italian cuisine. Her cookbooks are packed with classic and innovative recipes and, as most great chefs do, she promotes the use of fresh ingredients.  She looks like the quintessential Italian nonna, which makes me want to try her recipes that much more.

This recipe is a brilliant way to cook with eggplant.  A savory eggplant mixture is formed into balls, breaded, and fried.  When you bite into them…surprise!…there’s a gooey piece of melted mozzarella.  Come on, how can you resist?
Be aware that the photos will not reflect the written recipe amounts because I made a smaller portion for my family.

Cut 2-3 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds total) into 1/2-inch thick slices.

Line a large colander with as many eggplant slices as possible and sprinkle the slices generously with salt. Lay another layer of slices on top of the first layer and sprinkle with salt. Continue until all of the eggplant slices are in the colander. Set the colander in a sink or over a large bowl and let sit for 30 minutes. The eggplant will release some liquid while resting. 


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Pat the eggplant slices dry with a paper towel. Place the slices on a baking so that they lay in a single layer.


Set the baking sheet in the upper portion of the oven and bake until the eggplant slices are tender and dry, about 30 minutes.


Place the eggplant slices in a food processor and pulse a few time to chop. Be careful not to chop it too fine. This took 3-4 pulses in my processor. Of course, you can always chop the eggplant by hand.


Scrape the eggplant into a bowl and add 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1 egg, a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, and 1/4 cup bread crumbs.


Mix well.


Whisk a second egg in a medium bowl. Gradually beat in 1 1/2 tablespoons flour to form a smooth batter.


Pour 1 cup of dry bread crumbs onto a plate or shallow dish and season with salt and pepper.

Form the eggplant mixture into balls slightly smaller than ping pong balls. Insert a bocconcini (mini mozzarella ball) or 1-inch cube of fresh mozzarella into each eggplant ball. Roll again in your hands so that the mozzarella is no longer visible.


Roll each eggplant ball into the egg/flour batter and then roll in the breadcrumbs. You can prepare all of the balls up to 2 or 3 hours in advance of frying them.

In a large skillet, heat 1/2-inch vegetable or canola oil over medium-high heat to about 375 degrees F. When you drop some of the egg batter in the oil, the batter should sizzle and immediately float to the top. On the first go-round, I heated the oil too high and the eggplant balls were black in about 5 seconds. I turned down the heat to medium and all was well for the next batch.

With a slotted spoon, lower the eggplant balls into the oil. You’ll have to do this in several batches. Once the balls are golden brown all over, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with remaining batches.

These can be served hot or room temperature. I love flexible food! Top each ball with a small dollop of plain Greek yogurt and sprinkle with finely chopped parsley.

Other eggplant recipes:
Fried Eggplant Balls with Melted Mozzarella Centers
Adapted from a recipe by Marcella Hazan 

2 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds total)

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, plus more for garnish
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup fine, dry, unflavored bread crumbs, divided
1 1/2 tbsp flour
3 ounces bocconcini or 1-inch cubes of fresh mozzarella (about 1 1/2 cups)
Canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch thick slices.  Line a large colander with as many eggplant slices as possible and sprinkle the slices generously with salt. Lay another layer of slices on top of the first layer and sprinkle with salt. Continue until all of the eggplant slices are in the colander. Set the colander in a sink or over a large bowl and let sit for 30 minutes. The eggplant will release some liquid while resting.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

Pat the eggplant slices dry with a paper towel. Place the slices on a baking so that they lay in a single layer.  Set the baking sheet in the upper portion of the oven and bake until the eggplant slices are tender and dry, about 30 minutes.  Place the eggplant slices in a food processor and pulse a few time to chop. Be careful not to chop it too fine.  Alternatively, chop the eggplant by hand.

Scrape the eggplant into a bowl and add the Parmesan cheese, 1 egg, a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, and 1/4 cup bread crumbs.  Mix well.
Whisk a second egg in a medium bowl. Gradually beat in the flour to form a smooth batter.  Pour 1 cup of dry bread crumbs onto a plate or shallow dish and season with salt and pepper.

Form the eggplant mixture into balls slightly smaller than ping pong balls. Insert a bocconcini (mini mozzarella ball) or 1-inch cube of fresh mozzarella into each eggplant ball. Roll again in your hands so that the mozzarella is no longer visible.Roll each eggplant ball into the egg/flour batter and then roll in the breadcrumbs. You can prepare all of the balls up to 2 or 3 hours in advance of frying them.

In a large skillet, heat 1/2-inch vegetable or canola oil over medium-high heat to about 375 degrees F. When you drop some of the egg batter in the oil, the batter should sizzle and immediately float to the top.   With a slotted spoon, lower the eggplant balls into the oil. You’ll have to do this in several batches. Once the balls are golden brown all over, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with remaining batches.

These can be served hot or room temperature. I love flexible food! Top each ball with a small dollop of plain Greek yogurt and sprinkle with finely chopped parsley.

Makes about 25 balls.
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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Family Cuisine Food And Recipe August 19, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Look tasty ! Thank you for sharing. Cheers !

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2 Divina Pe, RHN August 19, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Wow, that's something unique and interesting to try. Cheese in the middle is always a good surprise.

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3 Divina Pe, RHN August 19, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Wow, that's something unique and interesting to try. Cheese in the middle is always a good surprise.

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4 Barbara Bakes August 19, 2009 at 1:37 pm

You had me at fried English muffins filled with Nutella. I've fallen in love with Nutella. Love the idea of the cheese hidden inside.

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5 citronetvanille August 19, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Ah that's my kind of food, and I make those on a regular basis! we think alike, they are really delicious, and anyone needs to try them

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6 Alejandra August 19, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Oh wow wow wow!!! Those look incredible.

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7 Bellini Valli August 19, 2009 at 2:42 pm

This is my kind of way to eat eggplant:D

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8 Natalie August 19, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Finally a recipe with eggplant that I like!! This looks fantastic, I would have never thought to make something like this. And the mozzarella sounds perfect with it all.

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9 Lisa Curcio August 19, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Oh. My. Goodness.

Those look delicious! Thanks so much for sharing.

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10 Rachelle August 19, 2009 at 4:34 pm

I love eggplant and fresh mozarella. What a great combo. I can't wait to try these.

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11 thekitchenette August 19, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Oh my god, these look so good. Hey, at least you used eggplant. You could have gone with fried mozzarella and it would have had no veggies! Thus, you can rationalize that they are deep fried.

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12 Danielle August 19, 2009 at 5:29 pm

What a great recipe! I've got to make this!!

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13 CaptnRachel aka Tha Pizza Cutta August 19, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Hello gorgeous! I can't really imagine this dish not fried. If God didn't want us to fry then we would not have oil. :D

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14 Jada August 19, 2009 at 5:53 pm

These look delicious, never seen anything like them! I just made a eggplant parmesan panini the other day and have some left over eggplant. Thanks for the post!

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15 SteamyKitchen August 19, 2009 at 5:57 pm

oh wow – this is brilliant! very very cute little balls! looks so light, savory

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16 Cathy August 19, 2009 at 6:05 pm

I'm pretty sure that baking the eggplant slices makes up for the frying ;).

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17 betty August 19, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Awesome website!!! Love the photos and great information-thanks,Betty http://www.geothermalquestions.net

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18 Jenn August 19, 2009 at 6:33 pm

Nice. Perfect appetizers. I think I could snack on this all day. And I think I would cave too.

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19 My Sensei August 19, 2009 at 7:10 pm

What a delicious idea! Jenn is right, perfect appetizers – especially for my eggplant loving family!

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20 Cookin' Canuck August 19, 2009 at 7:30 pm

I'm glad that everyone concurs that my virtue has not been tarnished by deep-frying rather than baking. Cathy, you gave me the perfect excuse to continue to make these!

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21 Danielle August 19, 2009 at 8:42 pm

Yummy!! I love Marcella Hazan's recipes, she really is the nonna of Italian cooking…for North America anyway ;)

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22 Claudia August 19, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Since I love eggplant parmigiana, I am predisposed to love your eggplant fried with mozzarella balls. Delicious and looks scrumptious. I never have dried my eggplant in the oven. I usually salt them and lay them between paper towels!

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23 Marillyn 'Mare' Beard August 19, 2009 at 9:27 pm

Looks amazing! My hubby loves eggplant! I gotta try this.. thank you!

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24 Diana Bauman August 19, 2009 at 9:32 pm

CC, you are simply amazing!! Seriously, I fight my husband to eat eggplant, and I LOVE it!! Fried and stuffed with mozz, I think he'll soon learn to love it to! Thanks for this :)

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25 Table Talk August 19, 2009 at 9:49 pm

These would be delicious with marinara sauce for dipping as well.
—maybe now I can get my daughter to eat eggplant.

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26 applecrumbles August 19, 2009 at 10:59 pm

Perfect – Perfect – Perfect. I absolutely love that recipe. Brilliant. Everything about it makes my mouth water.

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27 HannahBanana aka Amanda August 19, 2009 at 11:20 pm

Yup, these have won the "most delicious recipe I have come across this week" award! I've already set aside this recipe in my book to make this weekend. Eggplant AND cheese…and fried. Heaven!

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28 janet August 19, 2009 at 11:37 pm

Those look mouthwatering good!!

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29 Elin August 20, 2009 at 12:35 am

Hi,

Brilliant idea to cook aubergine this way. I love aubergines and I will definitely try this or I will not be able to sleep well..haha Thanks so much for sharing another winner .

Cheers,
Elin

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30 Liz Marr, MS, RD August 20, 2009 at 2:21 am

Aahh, just in time for my backyard eggplant harvest. Looks sumptuous. Can't wait to try your recipe!

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31 April Cavin August 20, 2009 at 3:31 am

What a great idea! We have been getting lots of eggplant lately so I will be bookmarking this one for sure.

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32 CheapAppetite August 20, 2009 at 4:06 am

This is very innovative idea. Looks really great. Even people who don't like eggplant would probably like this. Thanks for sharing:)

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33 Angie's Recipes August 20, 2009 at 5:21 am

What innovative idea to seal the fresh cheese with the eggplant mixture!

Angie's Recipes

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34 Elin August 20, 2009 at 6:37 am

Hi C'C once again,

I have passed you an award. Pls check it out on my blog. Thanks. I love your blog :)

Cheers,
Elin

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35 alwayswinner786 August 20, 2009 at 11:52 am

A very interesting recipe.
Eggplant is something with which we really have to think what to make with it.A sure try!

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36 Kim (@ Paper Apron) August 20, 2009 at 1:38 pm

You make me laugh. I did fry sliced pickles recently and they were inhaled by my guests. I can smell these mozzarella balls now! Mangia Mangia!!!

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37 HoneyB August 21, 2009 at 12:09 am

This looks so good and I am so hungry right now!

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38 Chef Fresco August 21, 2009 at 12:48 am

Dang those look awesome! Thanks for all the photos!

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39 Jessie August 21, 2009 at 1:31 pm

great photos and very creative! Those balls look so yummy and I love the mozzarella cheese centers

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40 doggybloggy August 21, 2009 at 11:26 pm

thank you so much for sharing this great idea and recipe – I love coming here!

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41 KrisKishere August 22, 2009 at 1:35 am

Oh. My. Goodness. HEAVEN! :)

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42 Kevin August 22, 2009 at 2:52 am

Those look so good all perfectly brown and filled with melted cheese!

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43 Teanna August 22, 2009 at 4:33 am

My boyfriend would LOSE IT over these! Seriously. Those look amazing I am printing this out to make this weekend! AMAZING AMAZING!

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44 Cooking Mama August 24, 2009 at 4:30 pm

Oh! These look so good! I know what you mean about being scared to death to fry something. I just started frying things, myself. My waistline isn't thanking me.

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45 Pierce August 24, 2009 at 4:32 pm

I really like eggplant and worry, just a bit, about frying too much. Baked sounds great. As a matter of fact, I think I need to update "What am I craving from" on Foodbuzz to your fried eggplant balls!

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46 Jamie August 26, 2009 at 8:32 am

Wow what a zinger! This is one fantastic recipe. Love that these are made with eggplant and love the mozzarella centers. And these just had to be fried, there is no other way for something like this.

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47 Shannon August 14, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Just found your site, and wow, I'm glad I did! These look amazing!

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