Eggplant Steaks: You’ll Never Miss the Meat
When I was developing this recipe several summers ago, I remember standing at the kitchen sink, washing eggplants and listening to the dueling TV shows playing in the background – one that my aunt had in the living room and the other my grandmother had in her bedroom just off the kitchen – and I distinctly remember smiling, thinking, ‘There’s no way my dad would ever consider this ” having dinner “. ”
With that passing thought, my childhood swirled around me and I got lost in the memories.
Dad always had a childish zest for jokes and pranks. There were summer days when he would come home from work, walk through the front door, hands in his pockets, waiting for us girls to come running up to greet him. Before the first of us was within reach, he pulled his hands out of his pockets, revealing two filled water pistols. I remember stopping immediately, realizing we were about to be bombarded with water.
All the girls were turning around, running away as soon as the first jets hit us, laughing and shouting with joy. He chased us in the living room and the dining room, in the kitchen, in the corridor and vice versa. Mom, as we ran ahead of her, in turn handed us plastic cups half filled with water for us to collect Dad – never mind that the water left puddles everywhere that she had to mop up.
There were also days when he came home so exhausted that we knew the best thing we could do for him was to play quietly outside together until it was time to help Mom with dinner. evening.
As for dinner, 75% of the time the meat was the centerpiece, just like dad liked it. A meal wasn’t a meal if it didn’t contain meat – red meat being preferred. Considering how expensive meat is today, I can’t imagine how much it must have cost back then, especially when it came to buying enough to feed a growing family. I’m impressed with how my parents managed on one salary for most of my childhood. But they succeeded, better than me. Pepper steak. Burgers with steak fries. Corned beef hash with tons of potatoes and eggs. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Carne asada with freshly made tortillas. Hamburger Helper with Rice-a-Roni…these were the midweek meals of my childhood. And during leaner times it was sometimes breakfast for dinner with sausage links or just freshly made. frijoles de olla (a large pot of pinto beans), rice and homemade flour tortillas.
No matter how hard times were for my father, we never knew. We only knew that dad had come home from work and that dinner was at 5 o’clock. There would be enough time to learn how hard it was to support a family. Back then, it was just more important to my parents to let us live a childhood with full bellies and surprise water gun attacks.
Eggplant makes a great faux steak
Replacing meat, these satisfying eggplant “steaks” are packed with flavor and antioxidants, making for a healthy and delicious plant-based meal in less than 45 minutes. Although available all year round, heart-healthy eggplants are best in season, which is until October.
Inspired by a photograph I found several years ago when researching new ways to use eggplant, this eggplant is cooked until golden brown and barely tender with a fork to preserve the firmness of the slices, giving them a more “fleshy” quality. For this reason, don’t skip the “sweat” step. The salt will remove bitterness and excess water while seasoning the flesh, leaving you with the best tasting steak.
As for the skin, leave it; it is packed with phytonutrients and fiber. I also tweaked the ingredients from my original version, omitting the flouring step first to reduce the carb count (be sure to dry the steaks well before dipping them in the egg). Adding the Greek yogurt to the egg made it a thicker coating that adhered better to the eggplant, providing a good grip for the panko coating.
The panko breading benefits from the addition of Trader Joe’s Parmesan/Romano mix in two ways: the protein in the cheese will help slow the absorption of sugar from the carbs in the panko, while adding a big hit of flavor. I opted for whole wheat panko breadcrumbs here, but use regular panko if that’s what you have on hand.
I fry these eggplant steaks in extra virgin olive oil for maximum flavor and texture. If you’re averse to pan-frying, use olive oil cooking spray to lightly coat the eggplant, then roast in a 425-degree oven for about 10 minutes or until done. desired, turning halfway through cooking. However, I highly recommend the skillet method for best results.
Eggplant steaks with arugula salad
I like to place the dredged eggplant pieces on a wire rack and let them hang for 5-10 minutes. I have found this helps the breading stick better and is less likely to fall off the eggplant while frying.
Makes 4-8 servings, depending on serving size (1 or 2 steaks)
2 large eggplants
Sea salt, as needed
1 ¾ cups whole wheat panko breadcrumbs or regular panko breadcrumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan or Trader Joe’s Parmesan/Romano mix
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt
½ cup extra virgin olive oil or as needed for frying, plus more for dressing
1 cup packed arugula per person
¼ small lemon per person
Parmesan shavings for garnish
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Wash and dry the eggplant. Cut the stem. Thinly slice some of the skin off one side of the eggplant, exposing the flesh; repeat on the other side (this will give the egg and breadcrumbs something to stick to the end slices). Cut the eggplant lengthwise into four equal planks (about 1 inch thick). Place the eggplants on the cutting board and generously salt both sides. Place the eggplant upright in a colander. Repeat with the second eggplant. Let drain for 30 minutes.
Take two shallow dishes large enough to comfortably accommodate the eggplants. Mix panko and cheese into one until well combined. Crack the eggs into the second dish, whisking the yogurt until well incorporated; put aside.
Rinse eggplant quickly, pat dry thoroughly with paper towel, while applying light pressure to absorb excess water in each slice. Dip a slice of eggplant into the egg mixture, then hold it vertically above the bowl to allow excess egg to drip off. place steak on breadcrumb mixture. Using a tablespoon, coat the eggplant in the breadcrumbs, then use the palm of your hand to press the eggplant into the breadcrumbs. Flip the eggplant and press the second side into the breadcrumbs. Place the dredged eggplants on a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining steaks. Let the eggplants rest for 5 minutes before frying them.
Line a baking sheet or large dish with paper towels (or use a wire rack in a baking sheet, my favorite method); put aside.
Pour ½ cup of olive oil into a 10 inch wide frying pan and place over medium heat. Test the oil by dipping the handle of a wooden spoon or the thick end of a wooden chopstick into the oil. If it bubbles quickly around the edges, it’s ready. Gently slide in a steak, then a second steak. Fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes; carefully flip the steaks and fry an additional 5 minutes or until browned. Remove to skillet or rack lined with towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, frying no more than two steaks at a time to prevent the oil temperature from dropping. Add additional oil as needed.
To serve, place a steak or two on a plate, then add a cup of arugula partially covering the eggplant. Squeeze a lemon wedge over the arugula and eggplant. Drizzle the greens with about ½ teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil and finish with grated parmesan cheese, a pinch of salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste.
Recipe is copyrighted by Anita L. Arambula and reprinted with permission from Confessions of a Foodie.
Arambula is the artistic director and designer of the food section. She blogs at confessionsofafoodie.me, where the original version of this article was published. Follow her on Instagram: @afotogirl. Email her at [email protected]