Yes friends, I’m still alive and kicking despite the long posting absence. Would you believe I was busy attempting to train for a 10 km race? I say attempting to train because in the end I didn’t train nearly enough, but I crossed the finish under my own power and only slightly dishevelled. Those of you who don’t me might think, “meh, what’s 10K? You should only boast about doing a half-marathon (something that’s possibly on my radar) or a full marathon!” But the thing is, I ain’t no runner. I’ve never been long and lean. Each bouncy step forward is a victory against my mind that’s screaming “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO US?! WOULDN’T YOU RATHER EAT PUDDING RATHER THAN RUNNING THROUGH IT?!” And so on. The runners amongst you will know what I mean about running through pudding, especially when it’s 30 degrees with 80% humidity.
But I digress, and I haven’t even started today’s recipe! There’s really no way to tie this in nicely with running, because let’s face it: there’s no way you’d want to eat this before a race. Maybe a couple of days afterward, but certainly not right away. It’s hearty, it’s healthy (unless you get carried away with the oil), but it’s not running fare. Anyhoo, let’s put on The Pack A.D. and rock out whilst breading our eggplant. Oh, how’s this for total and utter digression: for those of you who dislike the objectification of women, check this video by The Pack A.D. out as a lovely table-turner. I had to share. Oh, and the link with the title? Traditionally all parmeseans use egg as the binder, but it’s really not necessary. Let’s shown ’em how it’s done people – that was the last digression, I swear.
- 1 medium or large eggplant, washed, NOT peeled, sliced into 1 to 1.5 cm-thick slices
- enough sea salt to cover the eggplant; say about 2 tsp
- 2 tbsp avocado oil (or some other sautéing oil; maybe more depending on how many frying pans you’ve got on the go)
- 1/2 cup soy milk (or almond or rice, etc.)
- a little more than 1/2 cup cornmeal (coarse or fine, I’ll let you decide)
- a little less than 1/2 unbleached flour (could be whole wheat, brown rice, chickpea or corn too come to think of it)
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp sage or basil (or both if you’re feeling wild)
- salt and pepper to taste
- about 1 cup of tomato sauce
- about 1 cup of shredded Daiya or Earth Island “cheese”, or about 3/4 cup nutritional yeast if you don’t have said “cheese” or don’t want to use it
Take the eggplant slices and layer them on a cutting board or in a colander. Sprinkle them with sea salt and let them sit for at least 15 minutes. While you’re waiting, pour the soy milk into a shallow dish and mix the rest of the ingredients (except the oil) together in a different bowl. Put the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat and start preheating the pan. Now that the slices have rested, rinse them thoroughly and then dunk each slice into the soy milk and then into the dry mixture. Flip and repeat the dry dip to ensure the whole slice is well coated. Place in the pan, repeating until you work your way through the whole eggplant or you run out of room in your frying pan(s). Sauté each side until golden brown (about 5-7 minutes) and then transfer to a baking sheet. Flip your oven on to about 375 degree F, then start spooning about 1 tbsp of sauce onto each slice of eggplant. Top with enough shredded “cheese” to make you happy, then stick the pan in the oven until the “cheese” is melted. Serve!
Oh, don’t throw out whatever breading doesn’t make it onto the eggplant… Sprinkle a little of the milk in, mash it around and voilà, cornbread nibblets! What better way to scald your fingers than to pick at delicious little crispy bits of cornbready joy right from the frying pan? I can’t think of one.
Additional note: This recipe has become one of our favourite staples, and I can never seem to make it the same way twice. The most recent iteration was different enough to warrant a little blurb. I used about half a cup of white rice flour, equal parts (about 1/4 cup each) of white and black sesame seeds, a bit of salt and pepper and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast to form the coating. I made sure to drizzle about 2 tbsp of grapeseed oil in a baking sheet which I had placed in the oven to preheat. Once the oil was hot, I lay the coated eggplant slices on it and put it back in the oven. 20 minutes later I flipped the slices (the undersides were nice and crispy), dolloped on some tomato sauce and Daiya cheese, then put it back in the oven for another 7-10 minutes, or until the cheese was nice and melted. The eggplant was crispy on the outside without being greasy, and creamy and delicious on the inside. How could I NOT share this new version?!