Eggplant parmesan is one of those dishes I love, when it’s done correctly, or at least correctly to my taste buds. I know you are supposed to bake it and make it all gooey and goopy, but there’s just something about the goopy part I really don’t like. For years I’ve breaded my eggplants then baked them in the oven, which really helped with the goopy part. So this is basically a take on that, but a little different form.
I had a craving for eggplant parmesan but alas, only had Japanese eggplants in my fridge. With no desire to hop in the car to get an eggplant I decided to make due with what I had. Boy, I’m sure glad I only had that Japanese eggplant. After I had cut it up into little circles I realized what a great little appetizer this could be. If you have never seen a Japanese eggplant, first, where the heck have you been, they are long and slender. Perfect for a bite size portion.
Today, I didn’t use Japanese eggplants, I had several little eggplants, or as my store calls them, aubergines. Since they are larger in width than Japanese eggplants they really aren’t “bite sized”, but still fairly small and could still be picked up and eaten in a few bites.
If you are doing these as cute little appetizers, you could use fresh mozzarella so you don’t get the “shredded” cheese look on top.
For the recipe (nothing specific, depends on how much you want to make):
panko (you could use regular bread crumbs but I find they don’t turn out as crunchy)
eggplants (Japanese if you want to do cute little bite sized appetizers)
oil for frying
fresh basil, optional
Cut the eggplants into 1/2″ thick slices. Next, put the eggplant rounds on paper towels, heavily sprinkle salt on side facing up and let sit for 15 minutes. Turn and repeat with other side. Wipe off the liquid and the salt from the eggplant. I do this to extract some of the water out of the eggplant, I think it makes the finished product less goopy.
Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. You want the oil to be hot enough to fry the coated eggplant but not burn it, and the panko will burn quick if the heat is too high. Mix eggs in a bowl and put panko on a plate. Dip the eggplant into the egg mix then the panko. Carefully put the eggplant in the oil. You want them to get golden brown, not burnt. When the eggplants are done frying put them on some paper towels to soak up the oil. Then put them on a cookie/baking sheet.
Put a dollop of marinara on each round, use the amount you and your family will like, then sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese (if using the fresh mozzarella slice do not grate). Put in a preheated 350 F oven for 5-10 minutes, depending on how brown you want your cheese.
I don’t like mine to brown, just to the point where the cheese is nice and melted.
Top with a couple basil leaves if you are using. I really like the taste the fresh basil gives, but they are delicious without it.