Elegant, vegetarian bite sized appetizers.
A delightful fusion of Italian flavors in a bite-sized form, this mini eggplant parm appetizer tantalizes taste buds with its vibrant medley of textures and savory notes. Each petite disc of tender eggplant is delicately coated in a crisp golden breadcrumb crust, crowned with a dollop of rich marinara sauce and a decadent melt of gooey mozzarella cheese. These bite-sized wonders encapsulate the essence of traditional eggplant parmesan, delivering a burst of robust flavors in a single bite.
Slice Japanese Eggplants
Slice Japanese Eggplants in 1/2 inch circles. Japanese eggplants are very easy to grow but also easy to source in the summer months.
Remove Excess Moisture
Lay slices of eggplant between sheets of paper towel and set a sheet pan with a weight on top. (A heavy cast Iron pot works well here.) Let the excess moisture absorb for 30 minutes to an hour.
Set up a standard dredging station of Flour, Egg and Breadcrumbs.
Panko vs Seasoned Breadcrumbs: I have used both panko and classic Italian seasoned breadcrumbs. Both work well, but the panko does result in a more “crunchy” bite. The preference is personal.
Set breaded Eggplant aside
Place the breaded eggplant slices on a sheet pan and refrigerate for at least an hour. (You can actually leave them at this stage in the fridge for a several hours if you want to.)
Tip: Refrigerating your breaded items like eggplant or chicken cutlets for at least an hour before frying results in better sticking and ultimately a better end result.
Set a Probe Thermometer, like the Dot seen here, into a pot of Canola oil. Set temperature for 375°F. Once the eggplant goes in, it will drop in temperature. Adjust the stove temperature accordingly to get it back up past 350° and hold around 350°-375° while frying until golden brown.
If frying in batches be sure to wait for the temperature to reach 375° again before dropping.
Season & cool
Use a spider (Large slotted spoon made specifically for frying) to remove the eggplant slices from the hot oil and place on a raised grid over a paper towel lined sheet pan. Sprinkle with salt.
Top & Bake
Set oven to 450°F. Remove the paper towel if using from under the raised grid and top with Marinara sauce and a blend of shredded Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 5 minutes or until hot and starting to brown.
Garnish & Serve
Garnish with finely julienned slivers of basil and serve