There is a bit of debate over how to properly prepare eggplant. Some say that you must always start by salting and rinsing sliced eggplant to remove bitterness, and others say that this step is usually unnecessary. I've tried both and say—it depends.
When cooking eggplant with a great deal of oil (I do this when roasting or grilling), I don't find it necessary to salt/rinse. The oil and creamy texture that result from this method of preparation help cut through any bitterness, and honestly, a little bitterness doesn't bother me.
But when using eggplant in recipes that call for little or no oil, I do prefer to salt and rinse. This helps achieve a nice texture in recipes such as breaded and baked Italian eggplant.
The simple eggplant recipe below can be looked at as the start of a delicious Italian dish. It can be topped with marinara and served with warm pasta or can be used as the main ingredient in a warm sub sandwich. Either way, the smooth texture of the eggplant center paired with the crunchy breadcrumb coating will be delicious.
Breaded and Baked Italian Eggplant
1/2 cup soy milk
Egg replacer equivalent to 1 egg
1 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup flour
1/2-1 cup marinara sauce
•Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch slices, then liberally coat with salt and set in a colander for 1 hour to drain. Rinse the excess salt from the eggplant and pat dry.
•Preheat the oven to 400°F.
•In a medium bowl, combine the soy milk and egg replacer and mix well.
•In another medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs with the salt and pepper.
•Set up a breading station with one bowl for each: flour, egg replacer mixture, and bread crumb mixture. Dredge the eggplant in flour and shake off the excess. Submerge the eggplant in the egg replacer mixture, shake off the excess, and then coat evenly with bread crumbs.
•Place the eggplant in a single layer on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the eggplant is crisp on the outside and tender inside.
•Serve topped with marinara and chopped basil, if desired.
Makes 4 servings
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