Tuesday, August 2, 2011

“Oven Fried” Eggplant

Crispy on the outside and a bit puffed up and creamy on the inside.  Eggplant does not need to be fried in order to get the taste and texture just right.  In fact, eggplant is such an oil absorber roasting at a high heat can actually give you better results than frying. This recipe is easy enough to make and enjoy on a weeknight.

High heat is the key to light and pure breaded eggplant slices. Turn up your oven to 450˚K and give it time to preheat.  This is true roasting temperature.

"Oven Fried" Eggplant
Preheat oven to 450˚F.
Slice one eggplant in 1/2 inch slices.  (You can peel eggplant or leave the attractive purple skin on or partially peeled).  Expect 9-12 slices.
Set up 3 shallow dishes for breading and use spray oil to prepare a heavy baking sheet.

Breading
Dish #1
1/2 cup flour + 1//4 teaspoon salt

Dish #2
1 beaten egg + 2 oz milk +1 oz water

Dish #3
1 cup fresh bread crumbs + 1/4 teaspoon each dried oregano, dried basil, black pepper, salt and parsley
(1 cup dried breadcrumbs can be substituted.)

Method
  1. Dip each slice in flour mixture and shake of excess.  The purpose of flouring the eggplant is to provide a dry surface for the egg wash and a thick layer of flour is not necessary.  
  2. Next dip the eggplant slice in the egg mixture and finally coat each side with the crumb mixture.  Place slice on oiled baking sheet.  
  3. Repeat with remaining slices and roast eggplant in a 450˚F oven for 15 minutes.  
  4. Turn slices over and roast an additional 5 minutes.  
  5. Serve as is or spoon a small amount of marinara sauce on each slice and top with mozzarella cheese.  Return to oven for 3-4 minutes until cheese melts.  Eggplant slices can be used in any eggplant Parmesan recipe.


Eggplant Tips
When buying eggplant, follow the general rule for all vegetables and fruits, that is, pick ones that are heavy for their size.  This indicates freshness via the presence of moisture inside.

Many people salt sliced eggplant and let it sit in a colander about an hour to draw out any bitterness.  This step also helps the eggplant resist too much oil absorption and is more important with older specimens.  I skip this step when the eggplant is at its peak freshness and because I won’t be frying it, I don’t have the oil absorption problem.


Post Script: Thankful to my Dad tonight for his enthusiastic approach to new foods throughout his travels. They taught him about the people of the world through sharing a meal together.