You Heart What You Eat: Eggplant Fries | SteamboatToday.com

You Heart What You Eat: Eggplant Fries

Tera Johnson-Swartz

Explore's food contributor

— Until I was grown and moved away from my family's house I had never seen nor ate anything with eggplant. Sure, I saw them at the grocery store just looking longingly at me in their beautiful deep violet cape, but still my parents never cooked using them, thus I had no idea what they event tasted like. Still, my first encounter was at an Italian restaurant serving eggplant parmesan that I didn't mind eating but couldn't imagine replacing chicken for eggplant in a yummy tomato sauce if I had a choice.

Since then I've rarely cooked with eggplant in most of my home dishes, until most recently my aunt-in-law made this yummy concoction of eggplant fries that absolutely blew my mind for flavor! Now, I'm not going to tell you they taste like French fries, because they don't. Nor will I tell you they have the texture of sweet potato fries, because again, they don't, but what I will tell you is that they were absolutely delicious! In fact, I honestly can't think of something to equate them too other than maybe a fried green tomato, with a crunchy exterior thanks to panko crumbs and a savory sweet and chewy interior, however this recipe does not fry them so maybe I'm stretching for a comparative.

Anyway, what struck me about the fries was how simple they were to prepare and actually took less time to bake than standard frozen fries, so of course, a mother of two, I'm all about simplicity! Oh, and in case you're like me and curious what the nutritional value of an eggplant might be, one cup of cooked eggplant contains 10 percent of your daily dose of fiber and seven percent of your daily value of copper (helps your body manufacture collagen, the first thing we start loose as we age, hence where wrinkles come from). Regardless, eggplant has become a pretty popular veggie in my kitchen now that I can substitute fries with them, so here's the quick and easy recipe.

Eggplant Fries

  • 
1 eggplant, skin can stay on, cut into French fry form
  • 
Olive oil

  • 2 cups Panko crumbs

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 
1⁄2 tsp. onion powder

  • 1⁄2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1⁄2 tsp. dried basil

Combine the panko crumbs, salt, parsley, pepper, garlic and onion powders as well as dried oregano and dried basil in a large bowl and set aside.

In a large Ziploc freezer bag, put cut eggplant pieces and pour a generous amount of olive oil – enough to notice the coloring of the eggplant to look slightly soggy.

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Next, pour the panko mixture into the bag, zip and shake it ensuring all fries are covered. Pour the eggplant fries onto a cookie sheet along with any of the crumbs you wish to distribute among the neglected fries and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes (or until crisp enough for your liking) and enjoy!

YOU HEART WHAT YOU EAT is a weekly blog offering a twist of healthy alternative tips and recipes for some of our most coveted comfort foods. From decadent desserts to main dish favorites, you'll surely look forward to our next edition. Questions or suggestions you'd like included in one of our future blogs should be directed to Tera Johnson-Swartz via email at terajohnsonswartz@gmail.com.

Tera Johnson-Swartz is a mommy first, but also enjoys working one of her many, many side gigs whether it be freelance writing, music, massage therapy, independent childbirth, lactation or health educating. She is eternally grateful she is able to follow her passion each and every day and loves her supporting husband and their two young children  and couldn’t imagine living a better life outside the city limits of Steamboat Springs.