Vegetarian Scotch Eggs

I will be honest with you: I hate frying. It stinks the place up, it’s a mess to clean up afterwards and even back home in Italy my mum used to make a big fuss out of it by segregating herself in the kitchen, window wide open, so that the smell would not permeate the rest of the house. That said, sometimes you just can’t escape it. And, as we say in Italy, everything tastes good as long as it’s fried, even a shoe. Therefore, this time I was prepared. I opened the window, put the extractor fan on maximum and managed to cook these beauties without smoking the place up or turning my kitchen into an oil bath.

I will not go over the history of the Scoth egg. It’s not Scottish, as we all know it, and this article by the Guardian provides both an historical and a cultural overview of this culinary invention. The one below is a meat-free take as per the latest edition of the Good Food magazine. They called it Falafel Scotch Egg, I think ‘vegetarian’ hits the spot a lot better. I also played a little bit with the quantities in the original recipe, so the ones below are the quantities I used. These are very easy to make. I’d say you can get them done and cooked in less than an hour. If you wanted to, you could swap large eggs for quail eggs, for instance, or smaller ones – this way you’d get more mouthful-friendly Scotch eggs and you could also serve a larger crowd. I like how green they look when you cut through them, I think it gives them a whole new dimension.

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Ingredients

  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 400g can of chickpeas, drained
  • 50g coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 200g breadcrumbs + 25g
  • 5 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2L vegetable oil, for frying
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Method

  1. Put 7 eggs in a pan of cold water, then bring to the boil and cook for about 5-6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and drain about half of the water left, then put it in a sink under cold running water until the pan in full again. Drain the eggs, then leave them in the pan and fill it with cold water again. Set aside to cool completely. Once cooled, peel the eggs.
  2. Put the oil, chopped onions and garlic in a frying pan and cook over medium heat just until the vegetables start to turn golden. At this point, add the spices and cook for a further 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and cool.
  3. Tip the onion and garlic mixture into a food processor and pulse a few times to make a coarse paste, then add the chickpeas, coriander leaves, the remaining egg, the flour, the large quantity of breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Pulse together adding a couple of tablespoons to loosen the mixture a little bit until you get a vibrant green paste which can be moulded easily.
  4. To cover each egg, roll it in a couple of tablespoons of plain flour with some salt and pepper, then dust the excess off and take about 3 walnut-sized pieces of the green filling. Flatten it on your hand, then gently place the egg in the middle and use both of your hands to close the filling around each egg, making sure there are no gaps and the filling is even all around the egg. Roll each egg with the filling outside between your palms to smooth the surface, then set aside.
  5. In the meantime, heat the oil in a saucepan big enough to accommodate two eggs at a time. The oil will be ready when a cube of bread plunged in it browns in a few seconds.
  6. Once all of the eggs have been covered with the vegetarian mixture, place the remaining breadcrumbs and the sesame seeds in a shallow plate, then quickly roll the Scotch eggs in it.
  7. Fry two eggs at a time. They won’t need long, about 3 minutes maximum. Drain on plenty of kitchen paper, then season with a pinch of salt and serve with mustard and/or pickles. Enjoy!

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