topsy turvy saga and my struggle to keep a potted herb alive, you would understand how in awe I am when people can grow such wonderful looking veggies at home. I was just giddy about this little tyke and immediately tried to come up with the perfect way to use it. I dreamt of vegetable lasagnas and eggplant stir frys, and leave it to me to end up cooking this in the most unhealthy way (however, probably the most delicious!). I haven't cooked much with eggplant so my goal for my first time was to make it as tasty as possible. Fried eggplant with marinara sounded like a winner to me! I found this wonderful recipe from Emeril Lagasse and got to work. The results were delicious. In fact, Mr. Hungry said it tasted more like fried cheese than an eggplant. Yum. So if you have never cooked with eggplant either, I suggest you try this easy and delicious method.
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse from the Food Network
Do not be scared by all the spices that go into Emeril's Essence. I actually didn't use the thyme because I didn't have any and substituted the onion powder for the onion flakes I already had. Of course the goal is to use all of the ingredients, but you can skip one or two if you need to. I would suggest cutting the eggplant no thicker than 1/4 inch. I cut one piece that was slightly thicker and it was a little bit tough. A tip to know when your oil is the right temperature: When you have heated your oil over medium to high heat, sprinkle a little bit of flour in the oil. If it sizzles and pretty much dissappears, your oil is ready.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour or cornstarch
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus additional for sprinkling eggplant
1 tablespoon Essence, recipe follows
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch disks
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
Marinara sauce, for dipping
Ingredients for "Emeril's Essence"
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
Step by Step
1. Place the flour, egg, and bread crumbs each in 3 small bowls.
2. Add the 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the egg and whisk to combine.
3. Season the bread crumbs with the tablespoon of Essence and stir with a fork or your hands to thoroughly combine.
4. Dredge each piece of eggplant in the flour, coating thoroughly and then shaking to remove any excess flour.
5. Coat each piece with the egg, then dredge in the bread crumb mixture, pressing to make the bread crumbs adhere. Transfer the eggplant pieces to a paper towel to let them dry slightly before frying.
6. In a heavy skillet, heat 1/2-inch of vegetable oil to 375 degrees F (medium to high heat).
7. Fry the eggplant pieces, in batches if necessary, for about 1 minute on each side, or until golden brown. 8. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain.
9. Sprinkle lightly with salt before serving. Serve with marinara sauce, or as desired.