I don’t just like eggplant, I LOVE eggplant. Why do you ask? Good question. For starters, it is such a versatile vegetable. From Italian, to Greek & Thai…there are just so many authentic dishes that are centered on it. Believe it or not, when I was a little kid I actually thought eggplant was a meat due to the fact it was the main ingredient of my all-time favorite, Eggplant Parmesan. It was only later, that I realized this gorgeous purple specimen was a veggie that I could show-off dips, sides & stuff into wraps. Here is the best part of all; it is loaded with fiber, vitamins, and studies show it may even lower cholesterol. Let’s preserve its goodness and trade in the heavy parm for these lighter Baked Eggplant Crunch Rounds. Same great flavor with a sliver of the calories!
• 1 small eggplant cut into 1/8′ rounds
• 1/2 cup Japanese style Panko crumbs
• 2 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
• 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 2 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (I use basil & oregano)
• 1/4 cup tomato sauce
• 1/2 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
• Ground pepper to taste
1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.?2.) Lay the eggplant flatly on a paper towel and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Let them sit for 15-20 minutes and then wipe off the salt with a paper towel.?(This process is known as “degorging” and simply removes the excess moisture from eggplant.?3.) Spray each side with cooking spray and sprinkle on additional salt and ground pepper.?4.) Bake for 10 minutes or until eggplants starts to brown and become tender.
5.) While the eggplant is in the oven mix together the Panko crumbs, parmesan cheese and herbs in a small bowl until all is thoroughly combined.
6.) Once eggplant has cooked remove from the oven. When slightly cool spread a thin layer of tomato sauce onto each one. (This will be your glue)
7.) Gently sprinkle each round with your Panko mixture and finally scatter the mozzarella cheese on top.
8.) Bake for another 3-4 minutes until crumbs appear crisp and the cheese is melted and bubbly. (Sprinkle with additional grated parmesan if you wish)