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
- For the eggplant fries:
grated Parmesan cheese
large egg white
medium eggplant (about 1 pound)
- For the yogurt dip:
Freshly ground black pepper
Gallon resealable plastic bag
Heat the oven and prepare the baking sheet. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425°F. Line a rimmed 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 bowl; set aside.
Cut the eggplant into fries. Slice the stem off the eggplant. Leave the eggplant unpeeled. Cut the eggplant into wide sticks: first cut the eggplant crosswise into 1-inch-thick rounds, then cut the rounds into 1-inch wide sticks.
Season. Place the eggplant in a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and toss to combine.
Coat the eggplant fries in egg white. Dip 1 eggplant fry into the egg white and turn to coat. Place in the gallon bag with the breadcrumb mixture and repeat with the remaining fries.
Bread the eggplant fries. Seal the bag and shake to evenly coat the eggplant fries with the breadcrumbs and cheese.
Roast. Remove the eggplant fries from the bag, gently shaking off excess crumbs, and place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Spray with another coat of cooking spray. Roast, flipping the fries every 5 minutes, until golden-brown and crisp, about 15 minutes total.
Make the yogurt dip. While the eggplant fries are roasting, place the yogurt, garlic powder, dried parsley, dried thyme, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Serve the yogurt dip with the warm eggplant fries.
Make ahead: The yogurt dip can be made up to a week in advance.