Eggplant Bites w/Red Sauce
Bites, nibbles, crumbly blobs of Parmesan and breadcrumbs on small pieces of eggplant. This experiment made at least a dozen rounds in my kitchen before reaching this blog. It sounded good, but unless I took out duck-tape, the 'breading' had no inclination whatsoever to actually stick to the eggplant. I tried egg whites and whole eggs, small sized eggplant and eggplant cakes. The taste profile worked: it is a mini appetizer rendition of eggplant parmigiana. But not if it doesn't stick together.
But I kept trying. The red sauce for dipping is one of my favorite recipes, especially because you can make it a few days---months if canned---in advance. And not everybody makes eggplant, so it is a bit of a treat. And I will say, a small bite of eggplant covered in bread, cheese and served with 'pizza sauce' is not a bad way to introduce children to this nutrient-rich veggie.
Finally, the eggplant gave in to becoming my friend. I learned that I needed to slice it quite thin to get the right texture, that long narrow eggplants like the Japanese make for easy bite size rounds, that I needed to use flour---instead of a hammer---to make the breading stick to the eggplant, and that tossing in some dried Italian herbs is a nice touch to this already homey appetizer.
Eggplant Bites 1 eggplant, cut into 1/4 - 1/3 inch rounds 1 T kosher salt 1/2 cup bread crumbs 1/2 cup Parmesan 1 T Italian herbs (optional) 1/2 cup flour KS&CP (kosher salt & coarse pepper) 2 eggs 2 T butter 2 T olive oil Red Sauce (your favorite homemade or jarred marinara)
Place eggplant slices in colander in sink, sprinkle with 1 T kosher salt and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, take out 3 medium size bowls. Blend bread crumbs, Parmesan and Italian herbs in first. Blend flour, KS&CP in second; whisk eggs and 1 T water in third. Coat each slice in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in eggs, then breading. Heat 1 T oil and 1 T butter in skillet over medium, saute each slice 3 minutes per side or until nicely browned. Add remaining butter and oil as needed.
Note: If you use the globe-like, large eggplant, slice thin rounds and cut into halves or fourths. If using Japanese eggplant, similar in size and shape to an English cucumber, just cut thin rounds and go from there.