It’s eggplant season and we need to celebrate. It’s also hot and summer in the Northern Hemisphere doesn’t really call for the heaviness of eggplant parmesan so here is a light, flavorful interpretation of that classic dish in snack form. With fork-tender eggplant covered with a crispy, savory, cheesy coating, this will hit the spot. I honestly like the baked and air-fried versions about the same but air-fried is the way to go if you want to avoid heating up your kitchen.
I know there are eggplant, AKA aubergine, haters out there. I am not one of them. If you are averse, try to substitute something else like zucchini.
By the way, I also baked these in a pan with marinara spread on the bottom of the dish, then a layer of eggplant sticks, more marinara, another layer of eggplant sticks and some vegan cheese on top with additional breading sprinkled over the top and, holy moley, was that ever delicious. Bake at 375 degrees until warmed through and everything is melty!
1 large, firm eggplant, peeled and sliced into similar sized sticks ½ cup JUST egg 1½ cups vegan panko or breadcrumbs, regular or gluten-free (I used and recommend Ian’s) ½ cup grated or shredded vegan parmesan 1 tablespoon dried basil 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast 2 teaspoons garlic powder 1 teaspoon thyme 1 teaspoon fennel seed 1 teaspoon onion powder 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes ½ teaspoon smoked paprika Salt and pepper to taste Marinara for dipping
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In one shallow, wide bowl (a pie pan works great), add the JUST egg after shaking.
In another larger bowl, add the rest of the ingredients except for the marinara. Stir to combine.
Using one hand, dip the eggplant sticks one at a time and transfer to the bowl with the breading. Use your other hand to press the eggplant into the breading and transfer onto your baking sheet. You may need to do this in multiple sessions depending on how big your eggplant is.
Bake for 15 minutes. Using tongs, flip the pieces and bake for an additional eight minutes. Add additional salt and pepper.
Serve warm with marinara dipping sauce.
To air fry:
Preheat your air-fryer to 400 degrees.
Lightly brush the sheet with oil or spritz with oil to avoid sticking.
Follow the same instructions as above. You will need to air-fry this in multiple sessions. Air-fry for eight minutes; shake the pan, and air-fry another three minutes. Add additional salt and pepper.