Thursday, March 1, 2012

Oven-Fried Eggplant

What is large, purple, and has a round bottom? No, it's not Grimace, the Ronald McDonald character, or Barney the dinosaur. It's an eggplant or melazana in Italian.

There are many different varieties of eggplant. Some are small ivory-white and plump; they may be pink or purple and flecked with white irregular stripes. In Asia, they are tubular and usually straight or slightly curved. In Thailand, the eggplants are not much bigger than peas. Colors range from black, to purple to orange, green and white. They have a tender, slightly sweet flesh.

The majority of eggplants found in most grocery stores are dark purple or almost black and can be long and slim or fat. All have a similar bland yet smoky flavor and the flesh is spongy to the touch when raw, but soft after cooking. When purchasing, eggplants should feel heavy and quite firm to the touch, and have a glossy, unblemished skin. They will keep well in the salad drawer of the refrigerator for up to two weeks. (Source: The World Encyclopedia of Cooking Ingredients)

When cooking eggplant it is best to “salt” them first. Cut eggplant into ½ inch slices and sprinkle a generous amount of salt and allow to stand for one hour. This will out draw the excess moisture. Rinse well patting with paper towel to dry. Eggplants will absorb large amounts of oil when cooking and removing the excess moisture helps to reduce this.

You may get tired of me writing things like, "before moving to Sicily I had never eaten _____ or before moving to Sicily I rarely ate _____, or before moving to Sicily I didn't know what ______ was". I have been exposed to many different foods the past two years so I apologize if it gets annoying. Forgive me for saying again, but eggplant is another food that I didn't eat very often before moving to Sicily. Eggplant is very popular in Italy. Some of the most popular eggplant dishes are Pasta al a Norma (which is spaghetti with red sauce, fried eggplant and grated salty ricotta cheese),  Eggplant Caponata, (my favorite Italian antipasta), and Eggplant Parmigiana. Eggplant is also delicious simply sautéed or fried and served as a side dish or even as a topping for sandwiches. You cannot live in Sicily without at least trying eggplant.

I typically fry eggplant when serving as a side dish. It is really tasty, but very fattening. So when I came across this recipe for baked eggplant I thought I would give it a try. Oh my goodness was it good! No lie; it was even better than fried. If you like eggplant you have to try this guiltless recipe!

Oven-Fried Eggplant
Source: The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
Prep: 11 minutes
Cook: 24 minutes
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3 slices)

1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced fresh onion
12 (1/2-inch-thick) slices unpeeled eggplant (about 1 pound)
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Combine mayonnaise and onion; spread evenly over both sides of eggplant slices. Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, and Italian seasoning in a shallow bowl; dredge eggplant in breadcrumb mixture.
3. Place sliced eggplant on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes. Turn eggplant over; bake 12 minutes or until golden.

Calories: 121
Fat: 2.8g
Protein 5g
Carb 19.8g
Fiber 3g


  1. I use a little bit of parmesan cheese with this instead of bread crumbs...also yummy..I got the recipe off of weight watchers. :-)

  2. Thanks for sharing! That would be a great option for someone with gluten allergies.

  3. What would happen if you used an egg mixture instead of the mayo to oat the eggplant? I don't eat mayonnaise.

  4. I'd like to know that as well. We don't even buy mayo. What else could we use?

  5. Thanks for your question! I am not sure how the egg would work. I would imagine it would do fine. I will have to try it next time I make this dish. If you are concerned about the flavor, you can't taste the mayo at all :)

  6. To those who don't want or have any mayo, I like eggplant made like this and never have tried mayo. May I suggest maybe just a dip in water followed by nonstick spray or brush of olive oil. Non stick spray in my opinion also helps coat a coating together and helps the breading not fall off.

  7. I cooked this dish last night using olive oil instead of mayo and it was delish!

  8. egg would be fine.

  9. My mom used to make this same idea except battered and friend (thinking about it makes my mouth water...and my hips I've done a healthier version very similar to this but I lightly salt the eggplant slices and leave them on cooling racks with papertowels underneath so let some of the moisture drain out. Then I use egg whites instead of any mayo or anything, I use panko breadcrumbs with a little parmesan cheese added into the mix. I spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray and cook them until they're golden brown & crispy - turning once during cooking. Wow this turned into a lot longer of a post than I intended, sorry, but I just LOVE these and they make AWESOME eggplant parmesan!

  10. Made this tonight and it was great, gonna use Greek yogurt next time and see how that tastes