Eggplant is a funny vegetable. Although many enjoy the taste, we have found that few are eager to cook with it in the kitchen: its bitter flavors and tendency to become leathery are major deters for anyone who might be interested in incorporating it into any of their “go-to” recipes. However, when done right, eggplant is simply delicious… and quite healthy!

Photo courtesty of agricultureguide.org.

We recently stumbled across the most SIMPLE, fool-proof (no measuring required!) eggplant recipe that we had to share. We like to serve it as a main dish with a tomato meat sauce, or plain as a side dish or snack. Enjoy!

Baked and Breaded Eggplant

You will need:

– 2-3 medium sized eggplants (about 1 per person)

– beaten egg white (about 1 per eggplant)

– bread crumbs (roughly 2 cups)

– salt (to coat the eggplant, about 1/4 cup)

Directions:

1. Using a peeler, peel the eggplant… but don’t peel the entire vegetable. Leave one inch strips so that the eggplant is “striped” with its beautiful purple skin.

2. Cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch strips.

3. COVER (generously) the strips with salt and layer them in a colander. Place an inverted plate on top of the colander and weight it down with something heavy (like a large pot). Put the colander/pot concoction in the sink and let the eggplant drain for an hour (a LOT of liquid will come out: definitely don’t make the mistake we made and leave it on the counter so that water drips everywhere!). The salt will draw out the liquid and the bitter flavors from the eggplant and is a crucial step to making a delicious dish.

4. During the hour that you wait for the eggplant to drain, beat your egg whites, preheat your oven and prep your meat sauce or tomato sauce (if this is what you choose to put on top of your eggplant: sometimes, we like them plain as a side dish; sometimes, we like it to be the showcase and serve them with a thick meat sauce.)

5. Also in this hour, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and pour your breadcrumbs into a large plate. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil as well.

6. Once the eggplant has drained for an hour, rinse them WELL with water. Pat them dry with a paper towel.

7. Dredge the eggplant slices in the egg white and then in the breadcrumb mixture.

8. Place the slices on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Halfway through, flip them over.

9. Enjoy as a healthy side dish, or pour a tomato or meat sauce over the eggplant and serve ass your main.

Wine recommendations:

If serving this eggplant as a main course with a tomato-based sauce, definitely choose a red wine which is high in acidity, such as an Italian Chianti or a Sangiovese from California. Stay away from “fruit bombs” like Zinfandel or Australian Shiraz: they will overpower the subtle flavor of the eggplant and the breading.