Fritto Misto (Crispy Fried Veggies, Italian Style) with Lemon Aioli

Fritto Misto © Photo by The Dirty Girls Kitchen

Deep Frying with the Dirty Girls

*singing* The roof! The roof! The roof is on fire! We don’t need no water, let the mutha fu…wait, a fire.  This is bad.

Again with the deep fried fire? Girl, you gotta get this shit straightened out, its FRYER, not FIRE. If you’re gonna live up to your reputation as “talent” you’re gonna have to leave the flames behind. By the way, are you whipping out the fryer in honor of National Tempura Day?

Whipping it out, eh?  I love it when you talk dirty, miss.  Yes, I am indeed celebrating this most auspicious occasion with a little dip in batter and some sizzle in a pot of gloriously hot oil.

I’ll tell you what is hot – deep fried vegetarianism. This is the dish you slip your man when you think he could use some balance to his taco-filled frenzy. Its a covert vegetable operation that he’ll thank you for.

Indeed.  Not that something to grab onto isn’t nice, but when he starts claiming a muffin top as his own, you’ve got to beat off the bulge with some produce.

Cass, I know you enjoy a good raw veggie now and then, but I am grateful that at least this once, we’re gonna cook them.

I’m gonna pretend like that wasn’t a backhanded claim that I like to get intimate with oblong veggies outside the kitchen and get to cooking, if that’s alright.

Fritto Misto (Crispy Fried Veggies, Italian Style) with Lemon Aioli

2 cl. of garlic, minced
1 egg
zest of one lemon
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp. of dijon mustard
1 tsp. of chopped parsley
1/2 c. of canola oil
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper

2 c. of flour (rice flour produces a lacy, crispy batter, but all-purpose flour works well too)
1 ½ c. of club soda
pinch of salt and pepper

string beans
baby artichoke hearts
bell peppers

sea salt
oil for frying
lemon wedges

  1. First make the aioli. A good aioli is like a good lover, full of zest and whipped, but not beaten into submission. Add the garlic, egg, lemon, zest, mustard and parsley to a blender.  Blitz on high and slowly stream in the oil.  Turn off blender and taste for salt and pepper.  The aioli should be pretty loose (not in the moral way) and not as thick (not obscenely so)  as a traditional mayonnaise, so thin with additional oil if necessary. Seriously. When was the last time you wished something was thinner?  Set aside.
  2. Now, you’ll want to prep your veggies. Be kind to your veggies and they’ll be kind to you.  Veggies are like the names of your once-in-a-while hookups in your phone – they’re all good at filling you up, but need to be treated according to their own unique talents:
    • Onions – The complicated veggie that you can’t wait to cry over. Peel and quarter, leaving the root intact.  Trim the root a bit to clean, but onion should remain as a little intact wedge.
    • Shallots – The little brother of the onion, but a little sweeter and won’t make you cry. Peel and halve, leaving the root intact.  Trim the root a bit to clean, but onion should remain as a little intact half.
    • Fennel – That hot Italian with the gigantic burst…of flavor. Cut bulb into thin slices, still attached to the root. Trim the root a bit to clean.
    • Lemons – Do it right with lemons and they won’t leave you bitter. Slice into rounds, peel and all.  Dry them off a bit with a paper towel to reduce splatter.
    • Zucchini – Choose your zucc wisely, they’ll leave you smiling. Slice lengthwise into ¼ in. slices.
    • Eggplant – Swollen and purple – what’s not to love? Slice into ¼ in. rounds.  If slices are particularly large, halve the circles.
    • Carrots – A solid standard. Always good in a pinch. Cut into ¼ in. matchsticks or buy matchsticks already cut to save yourself a little grief.
    • String beans – Fresh, innocent beans. What did they ever do to you? Snap off the stem ends and leave the whiskery bottoms on because they’re pretty.
    • Baby Artichokes – Totally high maintenance, but so sweet inside. Trim the stems, remove any thistly choke present and quarter.  Parboil in boiling water for 5 minutes and dry well.  If you are in a pinch, you can use canned artichoke quarters that have been rinsed and dried well.
    • Bell Peppers – Huh? Looked a lot bigger on the outside. Halve, de-seed and cut into wedges.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and club soda. You know, until its a bowl of frothy goodness.  Season with a pinch each of fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.
  4. Heat oil in a fryer or wok to 350°.  Cook vegetables in batches, dunking into the batter and then carefully submerging into the hot oil.  Keep in mind that the order of things is totally clutch – case in point, in life you’ve gotta warm up with a little foreplay before you smack it up, flip it and rub it down.  Same with the veggies.  Cook the eggplant, zucchini, fennel and onions first as they take longer to brown up.  And cook the lemons last – they tend to sizzle up from the moisture, and you won’t want to get shot in the eye as you cook.  Unless, that’s your thing, which we’d then recommend that you save for after you leave the kitchen.
  5. Drain on cookie sheets or racks lined with paper towels and season liberally with sea salt while still very hot.  If you’re frying a bunch, keep the already sizzled veggies in the oven at 200° until all else is finished.
  6. Serve veggies with the lemon aioli and lemon wedges for squeezing over the hot mess.

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