I have a strong love for all things Italian. The food, culture, country, wine, people and the language. Most people assume that I am Italian, but much to mine and my Father’s displeasure we are not. I will say however that I was lucky enough to once be married into a crazy large Italian family and my MIL taught me all the tricks of the trade, including how to make the best sauce and Nonna’s Christmas Lasagna that only gets made once a year. But I digress, this post is not about Lasagna, its about eggplant. Eggplant in my opinion, doesn’t get enough credit. Its a ridiculously versatile vegetable. Yes the skin can be a bit um weird sometimes but it really can take on the flavor of whatever you season it with, and for my Plant Based fam, it has a wonderful meaty texture, its great in stews or even roasted. Typically Eggplant Parm is fried, and I mean why not? Remember I am from the south we fry everything. Some people have even made it in the oven but like all things that are supposed to be fried that you bake it looses some of the crunch. Thank baby Jesus for the air fryer y’all. Now if you don’t have an air fryer (get one) you can of course fry or bake these and they will be just as good (I promise). Let’s get started:
- All Purpose flour
- Unsweetened Almond Milk
- Panko bread crumbs
- Spices, Herbs and basic deliciousness – if you have fresh herbs then by all means please use them. But this is what I worked with; Granulated garlic, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, thyme, onion powder. It is so important to SEASON your food, and no I do not consider salt and pepper seasoning.
- Parmesan Cheese – plant based fam use your favorite, I really love Kelly’s Gourmet you can get it off of Amazon or from her website directly (which I suggest) at kellyscroutons.com
- Mozzarella for topping
- Marinara sauce – I won’t judge you for using your favorite jar sauce, I mean sometimes we need to be quick with things. BUTTTTTT a better (in my opinion) sauce takes just a few things: can of tomato sauce, onions, garlic and basil – simmer in a pan for a few minutes and you are good to go.
Here’s the thing y’all a good crust starts with both wet and dry batters. First, slice your eggplant, I sliced mine pretty thick. Make your batters. Wet: flour, all your seasoning, parmesan, and almond milk. You want it on the thicker side. Dry: panko, flour, all your seasoning and parmesan. Take your eggplant and cover it in the wet batter first then move it to the dry batter. The coating will be thick. Before you get your fingers all messy, go ahead and preheat your air fryer at around 400. Your eggplant slices should look like this:
Once your air fryer is hot let’s cook these babies! 400 degrees for a total of 15 minutes. At 5 minutes flip. At this point, start heating or make your sauce. At 10 minutes add your mozzarella (oh yeah i didn’t forget) you can use slices, shreds whatever makes your heart happy. I used a combo of the Miyoko Mozz and the Daiya plant based mozzarella shreds. Go for another 5 minutes. Plate it up, and top with sauce and a dash more basil just because. It’s plenty filling as is, but you can serve it with a little side salad and of course, don’t forget the wine. Dig in fam!!