Vegan Italian Fried Eggplant

Fried eggplant is a very good thing. When done right, it’s crispy & salty on the outside, velvety & sweet on the inside. The most common use for fried eggplant is a vegetarian version of chicken parmesan. You know, that classic combo of breaded chicken cutlets, marinara sauce, mozzarella & parmesan. Whether on sandwiches, over pasta or on pizza, who’s not a big fan of that? But because I’ve been a vegetarian for a lot of my life, I’ve had more eggplant parmesan dishes than chicken, and I love them all.

While at the early September farmer’s market on Sunday, the eggplants looked so shiny & beautiful so I grabbed an extra large one for pizza night, obviously thinking I’d fry up the eggplant for on top of the pizza. Usually fried eggplant uses egg in the breading process, but because I only cook vegan food for myself, I had to switch it up a bit. The resulting fried eggplant was absolutely perfect, so I’m super excited to share the recipe with you guys.

We used these discs of eggplant heaven on our homemade pizza along with jarred marinara and my go-to cashew Alfredo, and let me tell you, this may be my favorite Sunday night pizza of all time. Literally incredible. I’m so happy I got one last eggplant dish in before the cold weather hits, and I can’t think of a better way to have used it. I’m so happy we have left overs for the week, how would you use it? Sandwiches? Pasta? More pizza? Thankfully, I don’t really think we can go wrong.

Vegan Fried Eggplant

Ingredients

1 large Eggplant
sea salt
1 cup non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
2/3 cup flour (I used all purpose)
1.5 cups plain bread crumbs (I used whole wheat)
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder or granules & salt
olive oil for frying

To Make

Line sheet trays with dish towels or paper towels. Slice eggplant cross-wise into discs, 1/4-1/2” thick. Lay out onto baking sheets. Season both sides of each disc with salt and cover with another layer of towels to absorb moisture. Allow eggplant to sit for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, add flour to a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, combine milk with ground flax seed, whisk to combine. In a third dish combine bread crumbs with seasonings, parsley through garlic powder, along with 3/4 salt (plus more if desired).

Bread each eggplant disc by first coating in flour and knocking off teh excess. Then dip each slice into the milk mixture until fully coated. Finally, add to bread crumb mixture.

In a large skillet, heat a thin layer of olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Be sure the entire surface of the pan is coated in olive oil. When frying the eggplant, the oil shouldn’t be higher than half the height of the disc.

When the oil is hot and shimmering, add eggplant slices to the pan in batches. Mine required 4 batches. Fry each side until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per side. then remove to a sheet tray lined with dish towels or paper towels (to absorb excess oil). Add more oil to the pan as needed (which will likely be between each batch).

Note that some of the bread crumbs may fall off into the oil and begin to burn, carefully remove what burnt crumbs you can using a spatula, but don’t try to be perfect, it won’t happen.

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