Today I decided to cook the eggplant that’s been neglected in the crisper for almost a week now. I’m not the biggest fan of eggplant (it’s a really bitter veggie), but I wouldn’t ever turn away a big cheesy eggplant parmesan from Olive Garden, especially in my vegetarian days. That being said, eggplant parm from an Italian restaurant is nowhere near healthy, which basically defeats the purpose of eating eggplant in the first place! I wanted to recreate the crispiness of eggplant parmesan without the added grease and cheese.
I like using cornmeal as a coating because it’s crispy and delicious, mixing in flour also helps it maintain more of a breading consistency. Cooking the eggplant in the oven rather than in an oily skillet keeps it crispy without getting soggy and greasy. Cooking it on parchment paper works out best as the crispy coating tends to, without fail, stick to the baking pan and pull your tasty breading off. Instead of traditional flour in the breading, I like to use almond meal/flour , this is just personal preference learned from my Whole30 paleo challenge, feel free to substitute ( I won’t judge). The breading sticks best to the eggplant if you dip it in egg first. I use a whole egg, as I’m not one to waste a perfectly good yolk (I’m on team egg yolk- no egg yolks won’t kill you), but you could definitely just use egg whites as that will provide enough stickiness to attach your breading (again I won’t judge). Pair these crispy eggplant slices with pasta and tomato sauce of your choosing, hey add cheese too if you’re feeling sassy. ENJOY
Crispy Baked Eggplant
1 large eggplant
1 TBS of salt for “salting prep”
1 egg beaten
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup almond flour
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
1/4 tsp seasoned salt
Preheat oven to 375. Line 2 metal baking sheets with parchment paper and coat with nonstick spray. Wash and dry your eggplant and slice into 1/2 inch thick round slices. This is where the prepping process comes in, which is a must to avoid your eggplant tasting bitter and mushy. Place your slices onto sheets of paper towels and sprinkle GENEROUSLY with 1 TBS of salt (or more to fully cover both sides). Let sit for 30 minutes or more. Small beads of moisture will form on the surface of the eggplant. While your eggplant preps, mix together your breading by combining cornmeal, almond meal, seasoned salt, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and smoked paprika. Place breading into a shallow dish or Tupperware. After 30 minutes, rinse the salt and bitter liquid off your eggplant and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Dip the slices one at a time in the egg (shaking off the excess egg as you go) then drop the slice into the breading. Gently shake the dish side to side to coat the eggplant with breading. Tap off excess breading and place on parchment paper. Repeat with remaining slices, spread out evenly on baking sheets and cook 30-35 minutes turning once. The coating should start to brown and be very crispy!
I served my baked eggplant over spaghetti squash and marinara sauce and topped it all off with an over medium egg.