Eggplant Chips and Pepper Strips
After another shopping trip to my local produce market, I find myself wondering what to do with all of this produce in the fridge before it goes to waste. Instead of the usual movie night snack of popcorn or my favorite appetizer, toasted chickpeas, I tried something new with the abundance of eggplant and red peppers I had in my kitchen. With the idea of making a snack-friendly finger food, I decided to lightly bread thin slices of eggplant and long strips of red pepper. Trying to keep this appetizer on the healthier side, I dunked the vegetables in egg whites before dredging them in a mixture of Panko bread crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs-what Tempura is made from), Italian bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese. Of course deep-frying or pan frying seems like the obvious choice for the best tasting outcome, however my decision to bake the vegetables turned out to be light, crispy and flavorful.
Lizzy M.'s Eggplant Chips and Pepper Strips
1 large eggplant, skin on, thinly sliced into half moons
2-3 large red bell peppers (any color bell pepper will work)
1 cup egg whites
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp granulated garlic
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Prep the eggplant by trimming off the stem, and cutting the eggplant in half lengthwise. Next, slice each half into thin half moons. For the red peppers, remove the stem and seeds. With a vegetable peeler or microplane, peel or grate off a few areas on the slick outer part of the pepper. This will help the egg whites and breading to stick better onto the pepper's surface. Then cut the red peppers into long strips. In a medium sized bowl, add the egg white and in another bowl add the Panko, bread crumbs, Parmesan and seasonings. Mix the bread crumbs, cheese, and seasonings well.
Coat each eggplant "chip" and red pepper strip in the egg whites and dredge in the bread crumb mixture. It is easiest, to coat one vegetable at a time. Once each is done, place on a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Before placing in the oven, spray the top of the vegetables with cooking spray. Doing this will help in crisping up the top of the eggplant and peppers. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip each vegetable over, spray again with cooking spray and continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes or until desired crispness is achieved.
Serve this yummy dish as a snack with Marinara sauce for a game day party, a holiday gathering or movie night. In the place of a fat-filled eggplant parmiggiano, serve these lightly breaded vegetables as the main course alongside pasta with sauce. The name alone, Eggplant Chips and Pepper Strips, seems pretty kid-friendly. Kids can pick these up easily with their hands, dip them in something (kids love to dip), and get some nutritious vegetables in their diets all at the same time.
Enjoy eating more vegetables!