It’s definitely hard to find an eggplant around here, but when I do, I tend to agonize about just the right way to fix it. I really want to savor it. Nine times out of ten, I return to my favorite eggplant preparation, dipped in breadcrumbs and crisped in the oven.
Baking eggplant instead of frying it is a trick my mom perfected years ago, but others are just now coming to this conclusion. On Mark Bittman’s blog, which I enjoy reading now and then, the technique was hidden in an article about improving Eggplant Parmesan. You could certainly use the recipe below as a starter for that main dish. I am of the opinion, however, that it’s good enough to eat alone. Technically, you would serve this eggplant as an appetizer. Put it on a platter with other breaded vegetables (zucchini and mushrooms are nice), serve with a zippy red sauce, and watch it disappear. Or, if you’re like me, eat more than your fair share and call it dinner.
Mom’s Baked Eggplant
All measurements are approximate. Mix according to your taste and needs.
one medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch sticks
about 1/2 cup coarse breadcrumbs
about 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated finely
1/2 tsp dried or fresh oregano
1/2 tsp. salt + more to taste
1 cup flour
1/4 c. milk
- Preheat your oven to 475F.
- On a plate, mix the flour with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. On a second plate, mix breadcrumbs, cheese, 1/2 tsp. salt, herbs, and a sprinkle of pepper. In a small bowl, scramble your egg and milk.
- Prepare a baking sheet by covering it with a piece of parchment and spraying it with olive oil.
- Dip each stick in the following manner: egg, flour, egg, breadcrumb. Place gently on the prepared tray, with at least a finger’s width between each one (to allow for proper browning.)
- When finished, evenly spray with olive oil.
- Bake for about 15 minutes. (There is no need to flip, if you’ve properly preheated.)
- Substitute zucchini easily for this recipe. Sometimes I like to cut it into half-moon shapes instead of sticks. Voila! Zucchini nuggets.
- Looking for a cheap kitchen gadget that will change your life? Try this.
- If you’re making a large batch, you might try putting the flour and breadcrumb mixture into plastic bags. You can shake a few sticks at a time to coat. It’s messy but efficient.
- You can make this ahead of time and keep it in the fridge, but not for long. Also, this eggplant is best eaten right out of the oven while it’s still crispy.