Eggplants are members of the nightshade family of vegetables, which makes them a close cousin of potatoes. Obviously that makes becoming fries a sort of family fairy-tale for eggplant. Surprisingly, eggplant is much easier to turn into fries than the legendary potato. Eggplant takes on a simple breading easily and quickly softens in the oven — the results are a fry with a crisp outside and creamy, tender interior.
Turning Vegetables into Fries
There are a few tricks to turning vegetables into fries. The first is making sure that the eggplant is cut into uniform shapes. Cut the eggplant into one-inch rounds first and then slice those rounds into batons — or thick columns. Leaving the skin on the eggplant helps it hold its shape while coating and cooking.
Shake and Bake
We've employed a similar breading on vegetable fries in the past (avocado fries are a favorite), but here we're using a faster method for getting the breadcrumb coating on the fries. Combining the breadcrumbs and Parmesan in a resealable bag and then using the bag to "shake" the eggplant fries in the coating gets the eggplant covered faster. This is important, as eggplant is notoriously absorbent and will suck up the egg white if left uncoated for long.
A Universal Dip
I'd argue that ranch dressing is a close second to ketchup in the well-loved dip department. Flavoring Greek yogurt with garlic and dried herbs makes a quick and fresh alternative dip for these fries. It keeps incredibly well in the fridge and is equally delicious for spreading on sandwiches as it is for dipping.
How To Bake Eggplant Fries
What You Need
1 medium eggplant, approximately 1 pound
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg white
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh-ground black pepper
Small mixing bowl
- Heat the oven: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray.
- Prepare the breading station: Combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan in a gallon-sized resealable bag. Whisk the egg white until foamy in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Cut into fries: Slice the stem off the eggplant. Leave the eggplant unpeeled. Cut the eggplant into 1x3-inch batons by cutting the eggplant into 1-inch-thick rounds, then cutting the rounds into batons.
- Season: Toss the eggplant with the salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Dip the eggplant fries: Dip the eggplant fries into the egg white and roll to coat. Set the dipped eggplant fries into the gallon bag with the breadcrumb mixture.
- Bread the eggplant fries: Once all the batons are coated in the egg white and inside the gallon bag, seal the bag tightly and shake the bag to coat the eggplant fries.
- Roast: Remove the eggplant fries from the breading bag, gently shaking off excess crumbs. Place the eggplant fries in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and spray with another coat of cooking spray. Roast the fries for 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, until golden and crisp.
- Make the yogurt dip: While the eggplant fries are roasting, whisk together the yogurt, garlic powder, dried parsley, dried thyme, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Serve yogurt dip with the warm eggplant fries.
- Make ahead: The yogurt dip can be made up to a week in advance.