Crispy Baked Eggplant “Parmesan”
This is a crispy, creamy, crunchy, healthy dream! I LOVE EGGPLANT! It’s one of my favourite foods on the planet…but it has to be cooked correctly. Nothing is better than a well-cooked eggplant, and nothing is grosser than an undercooked one. Blah. Underdone, eggplant is spongy and bitter and generally…yuck. Follow these instructions and you will find yourself serving a beautiful eggplant cutlet that is crispy-crunchy on the outside and creamy-dreamy on the inside. Best!
There are a bazillion recipes and styles of eggplant parm out there, and I’m sure I’ve made them all! This one is one of the quicker versions because it doesn’t required pre-frying or roasting of the eggplants. The only pre-preparing required is to slice and salt the eggplant and let it drain. This draws out some of the bitterness and flavours the eggplant. You slice the eggplant (quite thinly for this recipe, about 1/4″ slices) and arrange them in/around a colander and sprinkle salt generously over them. Let sit for about 20 minutes, you’ll see beads of water appear on the surface of the slices. Like this:
At this point you rinse them and then pat them dry with paper towels, you want them to be quite dry. This can all be done as you’re preheating your oven and preparing your breading station.
I’ve experimented with various vegan breading stations to dredge and end up with a good coating and have had varying results. This one seems to measure up with a traditional dredge and tastes amazing!
First you have a bowl of flour with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper.
Next you have a bowl with 1/4 cup ground flax and 3/4 cup warm water. Stir that together and let it gel. This is your “egg”
Finally you have a bowl with 2 cups breadcrumbs or panko (I used whole wheat), 1/2 cup vegan parm (I use this one… on everything…), and 1/2 cup ground/crushed pumpkin seeds (can sub some other nut/seed, it just has to be a fine meal)
Take a slice of eggplant and coat it in the flour, shake off any excess
Then dip it in the “egg” mixture
Then coat it in the breadcrumb mixture.
Place on baking sheet.
Continue until you are out of breading ingredients or eggplant.
Spray tops with baking spray/mist
Bake at 400′ for 10 minutes.
Flip the slices, spray the new tops, and bake for about 10 minutes more.
Test for crispyness of the coating and softness of the inside. If it’s not crispy on the outside and soft on the inside then return to oven and bake until it meets the desired texture. TIP: If you want added crispiness or decadence, after the rounds are baked you can panfry them a couple of minutes on each side. I didn’t do that for these pictures, but I have in the past. It is also a good way to heat up any leftovers!
Serve over pasta tossed in olive oil, salt, and basil. Top with favourite pasta sauce and a small drizzle of olive oil. Sprinkle with vegan parm.
- 1 medium eggplant, sliced ¼" thick rounds
- ¾ cup flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- ¼ cup flaxseed meal (ground flax)
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups breadcrumbs or panko
- ¼ cup vegan "Parmesan"
- ¼ cup ground pumpkin seeds (can sub other nut/seed meal)
- 1 tsp dry basil
- Preheat oven to 400'F. Arrange parchment paper on a baking sheet.
- Slice the eggplant into ¼" rounds, season liberally with salt and let sit in a colander over the sink for about 20minutes. This draws out the bitterness.
- You need 3 medium bowls. In one, combine the flour, salt, and pepper.
- In the second bowl combine the ground flax and the water. Let it sit for about 10 minutes to get gel-like (similar consistency to egg).
- In the third bowl combine the breadcrumbs, the "parm", the pumpkin seeds, and the basil.
- Rinse the eggplant and pat dry with paper towels.
- For each eggplant slice, dip the slice in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess
- Dip in the flax "egg" (if the egg is too thick OR you seem to be running low you can add a bit of water to make it go further).
- Coat in the crumbs.
- Arrange all the breaded slices on the baking sheet.
- Spray the tops with cooking spray or oil mister
- Bake 15 minutes and then flip the slices.
- Spray the new tops of the slices and bake 15 minute more.
- Check for doneness (I usually taste-test one). If the eggplant isn't soft, creamy, and mild flavoured return to the oven.
- Bake until done (the time really varies based on the eggplant, some cook much quicker than others for some reason).
If you don't have the vegan "parm" you can omit it entirely. Just add more breadcrumbs or pumpkin seeds, you may want to add a bit of salt to the breadcrumb mixture
If you want to omit the pumpkin seeds (or other nutmeal) you can - just add a bit more breadcrumbs.
If you want added crispiness or decadence, after the rounds are baked you can panfry them a couple of minutes on each side. I didn't do that for these pictures, but I have in the past. It is also a good way to heat up any leftovers!