ITALIAN EGGPLANT STICKS WITH MARINARA, Green Beans, and Twice-Baked Potatoes
I said it before, and I'll probably say it again: you win some, you lose some. I think this is a more of a loss for me (like the cauliflower) though these ITALIAN EGGPLANT MATCHSTICKS with marinara were not tooooo bad. (Man, I'm doing a lousy job of selling how tasty vegetables really are. :( ) I know I have had eggplant parmesan before and was not mad about it...though I can't remember how not mad I was, you know? It was a l-o-n-g time ago when I had it. We are talking high school or so.
It probably would have been safer to try making homemade eggplant parmesan; like I said, it's been a long time ago since I had it, so I can't remember where I tried it, but I liked it enough to remember I liked it, and I LOVE chicken parm. (I don't really like using "parm" instead of "parmesan," but it's getting tiresome to type the same words over and over and over...) But Zach said he wasn't necessarily crazy about it (now he says he just thought it was boring *lol*), so I thought I would try something we both had the chance of liking. There weren't a lot of eggplant recipes available that didn't call for exotic ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes and chickpeas. (These are not really exotic to me at all; I just didn't have any on hand--thus they are exotic, or far, far away.)
So I decided on ITALIAN EGGPLANT STICKS, which doesn't have the most appetizing name in the world, so let's call them MATCHSTICKS from this moment forth. (It just sounds a bit fancier, doesn't it?) Well...Zach said he liked them alright though they were "boring." (I guess, for the time being, eggplant will just have to be boring to him until I finally find a recipe to wow him. *hehe*) I didn't care for the chewy texture of the eggplant--I guess I expected it to fall apart the way zucchini and squash do after being roasted.
The funny thing is I don't really care for zucchini and squash because of their roasted texture, so you would think the opposite would appeal to me. (It didn't.) I've also decided I don't necessary care for Panko bread crumbs. I used them when I made fried yellow squash over the summer, which I usually LOVE, but I didn't like them nearly as much as I do a good flour dredging.
I will definitely give eggplant another try--a friend from high school suggested I drain off the bitter juice before using it (although I didn't find this eggplant to be bitter, so that wasn't the problem). But after a few blah veggies, I think I am going to stick to one I know for this coming week. And, no, it won't be the potato hough I've definitely known that veggie the best and for the longest. ;)
ITALIAN EGGPLANT MATCHSTICKS
-Preheat oven to 450.
-Gather your cooking spray, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
-Wash your eggplant and cut off the ends. Then slice into 1/4-inch slices lengthwise.
-Cut your wide strips into matchstick-like pieces.
-Place eggplant matchsticks into a bowl with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Stir or toss to coat.
-Crack an egg and discard the yolk; keep the egg white to wash your eggplant. (I suggest lightly beating the egg white with a fork.)
-Combine 1 cup of breadcrumbs with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning to taste.
-Dip each piece of eggplant in the egg white wash and then coat in the breadcrumb-parmesan mixture. I suggest using your hands to place the vegetable into the wash and then two forks to transfer each piece to be coated before placing them on a cookie sheet. This will keep your hands from becoming contaminated with raw egg and will allow you to add more breadcrumbs/parmesan/seasoning if needed as well as grab the egg carton when you run out of egg white wash. :)
-When the cookie sheet is filled, lightly spray them with your cooking spray. (This apparently makes them brown and crisp better, but it can also smoke up the kitchen. It caused our smoke alarm to go off repeatedly. It caused my husband to get MAD. I should have taken a photo or two of him repeatedly climbing up to turn the alarm off. *lol* ;)
-Bake for 10 minutes, flip, and bake for 5 minutes longer until golden brown. Serve hot with your favorite marinara sauce or you can whip one up with tomato sauce and seasonings (as I did).