Baked Hazelnut Breaded Eggplant.
It only looks like a Boca Cutlet.
The other night I gave myself the classic challenge - make dinner using what you actually have at home. There were ideas that came to mind quickly: a stir fry with rice, sauteing vegetables over pasta and even making pizza dough, but I wanted to side step a bed of grains.
I turned to the local eggplant*, and introduced it do the last of some homemade breadcrumbs in my freezer and a container of ground hazelnuts from too long ago. After the small talk was out of the way, dinner came together quickly.
The eggplant was sliced (skipped salting, don't tell my Italian great Aunt Helen), dipped in flour, a cornstarch + water slurry, and then both sides were pressed into a mixture of the breadcrumbs, ground hazelnuts, sea salt, black pepper, oregano and a bit of crushed red pepper.
I baked the slices on parchment paper at 375, 20 minutes one side, then 15 after flipping. I topped them with some tofu ricotta with added white miso, and a dollop of roasted garlic and almond pesto.
On the side is chopped fresh sweet green bell pepper tossed with balsamic vinegar and homemade shiitake marinara sauce.
Dinner #2 featured the eggplant slices just as vegan-traditional. Baked once again for 15-20 minutes in the oven at 400F, flipping once, topped with marinara, tofu ricotta and nutritional yeast, and baked an additional 5 minutes.
I served this with a side of steamed collards with sea salt.
*True Story: My younger sister Jenny was 'friends' with an eggplant from our garden when we were little. There's a picture of them dressed up in matching costumes, I swear. Or just really want to believe it. She was 6 or 7 or 12 or so at the time.
It's name was..."friend". I tell this story sweetly, but really, it was a scary time and eggplant was eaten.