'An air fryer is this season's must-have for low-fat recipes'

Courgette corn fritters from the air fryer

Courgette corn fritters from the air fryer - Credit: Kerstin Rodgers

An air fryer is the new black, or perhaps the new microwave. I ran one through a battery of tests to see what it could do. I chose the Ninja brand, with two frying drawers. 

The best thing an air fryer does is cook typically deep-fried recipes, such as chips, or vegetables that soak up a good deal of oil, such as aubergines, in a quick, mess-free and low-fat way.

When the weather is hot, we want salads but also fried foods with plenty of salt and seasoning, all the better to down with a beer or a glass of rosé. During the winter, with our bills sky-high, using an air fryer rather than an oven will save on energy bills.

Chips are a rare treat in my house, mainly because of the pfaff: all that chopping and double frying. The air fryer does make fried potatoes a doddle: I've just whipped up a quick lunch of home-made chip butties with last night's air fryer chips. Strangely they hit the spot in today's weather: 31ºC and rising.

During my research, I do wonder how many of the air-fryer recipes out there are properly tested. I had a few failures, particularly in my attempts to bake cakes in the air fryer, which took twice as long as in an ordinary oven, and left the batter in the middle uncooked. 

I popped in some herb-encrusted salmon fillets, which looked perfectly cooked on the outside but were raw on the inside. In contrast to the microwave, air-fryers circulate the hot air around the ingredient, cooking from the outside in. Having access to only one air fryer, I couldn't compare with other brands, but I followed the temperatures (which range from 160ºC to 240ºC) diligently.

One successful thing you can do with an air fryer, in total contrast to a microwave, is cook a boiled egg. Just pop a raw egg in its shell into one of the air fryer drawers. For a hard boiled egg, cook at 160ºC for 12 minutes and 8 minutes for a runny egg.

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Here are a couple of recipes that I came up with that did work well.

Aubergine sticks with tahini, yoghurt dip (serves 4)

This recipe was created specifically for an air fryer. The aubergine sticks are good as a snack, an aperitif, or in a pitta bread sandwich.

I love the contrast of the soft pale insides and the crispy purple skin but you can use gallons of oil when cooking them: they are sponges. The result came up trumps. I had a large bowl of aubergine fried sticks using only a couple of teaspoons of olive oil rather than the vat I’d normally use!

Aubergine sticks with tahini sauce

Aubergine sticks with tahini sauce - Credit: Kerstin Rodgers

Ingredients
2 medium aubergines, cut into sticks., Choose firm unblemished aubergines
1 tbsp sea salt
2 tsps Olive oil

Dipping Sauce
3 tbsp tahini
6 tbsp Greek yoghurt
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 lemon, juice of
Garnish
1/2 seeds of pomegranate
Handful parsley, chopped

Instructions
Cut up the aubergines, leaving the skin on and toss in salt, pepper, any herbs or spices you fancy. Leave for 10 minutes and drain any water from the bottom of the bowl.
Toss the drained aubergine sticks in the olive oil.
Using the crisper in the drawer, add the aubergine to it and set the timer for 15 minutes at 240ºc.
Make the sauce:
Mix the tahini, yoghurt, lemon juice and salt together.
To serve:
Tip the fried aubergines into a bowl and drizzle the sauce over them.
Add parsley and pomegranate seeds. Serve hot.

Mexican style corn, cheese and courgette fritters with avocado salsa fritters

Courgette corn fritters with avocado salsa

Courgette corn fritters with avocado salsa - Credit: Kerstin Rodgers

Fritters
1 courgette, grated, then pressed to extract as much liquid as possible
1 pack (225g) halloumi, grated
1 tin (160g) sweet corn, drained
2 tbsp of picked green jalapeños or rajas (which are mild green poblano chilli strips in tins, available at: https://www.rgarciaandsons.com in Portobello Road)
2 eggs, whisked
1 tbsp sea salt
handful chopped fresh coriander

Avocado salsa
1 small red chilli, roasted
1 avocado, diced
2 limes, juice of
1 tsp sea salt
handful chopped fresh coriander

Mix together the grated courgette, halloumi, sweet corn, jalapenos. Add the whisked eggs, and salt. Add the coriander, leaving some for garnish.

For the avocado salsa, roast the red chilli (roasting chillis makes them milder and gives a charred flavour) on the stove top until the skin is slightly black. Scoop out the avocado and dice. Add the lime juice. You can also add the zest. Add the salt and coriander.

To cook, with a large tablespoon, drop the mixture onto the air fryer rack in the drawer. Cook in batches in the air fryer at 200ºC for 9 minutes.

Find Kerstin at msmarmitelover.com