Being a typical college student (aka pretty much flat broke, with almost all money I earn going towards paying for school), I’ve had to make some cuts to my diet. Namely meat.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m actually quite the carnivore (PIGS ARE DELICOUS), but meat is expensive. I’ve mainly been getting my protein from beans and rice, but there are only so many bowls of it that you can take. So I’ve been experimenting with how to veggie-ize some of my favorite meat-based recipes from home.
Basically so far I’ve discovered that beans and lentils make a great substitute for ground beef; lentils make a better loose ground-beef sub, and beans make better patties (it does require some food processing to do so, though). But today I moved beyond this: I discovered eggplant makes a great sub for chicken breasts.
My mom makes this great chicken dish – OK, well, it’s really just chicken breasts flattened with a meat tenderizer, breaded, and pan fried. But it’s SO GOOD! And great for picky small children (it’s one of the few things my brother would eat after he moved past his ‘chips with melted cheese’ phase as a small child to the more adventurous eater that he is now – it’s still one of his favorite meals). Well, it turns out that eggplant tastes pretty darn good when prepared the same way, minus the meat tenderizer.
Not that I was thinking this when I picked up an eggplant at the on-campus farmer’s market Wednesday (I’m really ecstatic that the market has made it’s return – I love the thing) when I picked up the eggplant and a couple of zucchini for zucchini bread. I just love eggplant, and hadn’t had a good one in a while, since all the dining hall ones are super seedy and tough. This eggplant was awesome though, and really made me remember how much I love the little vegetables.
To make this, it’s really just your standard bread-and-fry. Cut your eggplant into aprox. ½-inch slices. Flour both sides of your slice, dip both sides in beaten egg, and then coat each side with breadcrumbs. I used Italian-style panko breadcrumbs that had been languishing in the pantry for a couple months, plus some grated parmesan & romano cheese. You could probably just use normal bread crumbs, but if you’re feeling like some more flavor, you can just add some Italian seasoning to the crumbs (and cheese if you want it – I couldn’t taste it in the end, and would probably leave it out next time).
Heat up a skillet with a thin layer of oil in the bottom – not piping hot, probably around medium to medium-low. I used a combo of canola and olive oil, but that was mainly because we’re almost out of canola, and I didn’t want to use the last of it because I don’t know when someone’s going to go grocery shopping next. Though the olive oil did add a nice flavor. Cook each side until the crumb crust is golden brown. Remove from the skillet onto a plate with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
Let it cool a little bit before eating. I served mine with one of those box rice mixes – long grain white and wild rice – because that’s what we do for the chicken at home, but it’s really up to you. Enjoy!