My dad loves eggplant. I usually grow several varieties including Japanese, rosa bianca, white and even Turkish orange. The black beauty variety grows well in the climate of New Mexico and tastes similar to the large Italian purple eggplant. That is what we received in the CSA share last week and I altered several eggplant parmesan recipes to have an appetizer at a party for my dad. This process actually worked out better than the round eggplant parmesan recipes because it coated the entire cube with cheese and bread goodness. My dog even wanted to enjoy this appetizer! Here is the recipe. Enjoy.
Amy Hetager, CSA Blogger
Eggplant Parmesan Cube Appetizer
1 lb of Eggplant
3 Mesa Top Farm Eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 or 2 tsps Dried oregano
1/2 to 3/4 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (this sticks better than wheat or gluten free)
1 small Onion, diced
3 cloves of Garlic, diced
5 or 6 large red tomatoes, blanched and peeled
1 tsp (or more) red pepper flake
1/2 Red Pepper, diced small
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Basalmic Vinegar
Fresh oregano, parsley and tarragon diced
Oil for frying at 400 degrees
Buffalo Mozzerella to cover a small baking dish
Cube the eggplant and leave in a collander over a bowl with salt for 30 minutes. This will help with any bitterness in the eggplant. This is not a required step if you want to move forward without it. Wash and dry the eggplant.
Prepare the three bowls for a dipping station. The first has flour, second is whisked eggs and the third is breadcrumbs, dried oregano and grated cheese. I use a small grated to have the cheese and breadcrumbs be the same size. Dip in the flour and dust off by holding in your hands and shaking with your fingers in the air with one hand. The other hand can become the wet one that dips the cubes into the egg and places in the cheese/bread bowl. If you have a second person, they can shake off the extra coating. If not, you can do it and have messy hands. It is actually a lot of fun to coat these little eggplant cubes.
Take a stainless steel or uncoated pan and fill the bottom with oil. You don’t have to have it very deep. Throw a few drops of water in to see if they sizzle. You can also toss in one eggplant to see if it begins to brown. The oil should be 400 degrees so a thermometer would be the best way to check. If the oil is not hot, then it will taste more oily and not brown as quickly.
When ready, fry enough cubes to float in the oil without crowding. They will only take a few minutes to cook and should be turned on all sides. Have a plate with a towel to soak up any excess oil and cool for the next section.
Making the sauce may take more time than frying the eggplant if you are using fresh tomatoes. You could also use canned tomatoes. I add the ingredients for the sauce (without the herbs) and let it cook for about an hour. Add the herbs closer to the end of the cooking time to retain their freshness.
Set the oven to 375 degrees. In a small baking dish (I used 8″x8″) coat the bottom with the sauce. Add the eggplant cubes. Cut thin slices of buffalo mozzarella and place over the top of the eggplant. Not all of it should be covered so that some can get crispy in the oven. Place in the oven for about 10 minutes to brown and melt the cheese.
Serve with toasted bread or angel hair pasta.