Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Panko Madness

Remember that Panko-coated, oven fried chicken I made a few weeks ago? Well, the Panko bread crumbs have taken over my life and become a new obsession. I feel like that guy on the TV commercial that gets a label maker and labels everything in sight. I just can't stop rolling my food in Panko. The good news is- just about everything tastes great with a coating of these crispy little flakes. However I don't recommend using them in meatballs or as a filler in burgers or casseroles. You don't get the benefit of the crunch. But for coating fish, chicken, or vegetables, they are simply perfect.

Two of my favorite Panko-coated, oven fried veggies so far are zucchini and eggplant. For these two vegetables I used the same coating procedure as I did with the chicken, but I made a few changes in the seasonings. Instead of the paprika and Adobo, I substituted oregano and minced onion. Yeah, minced onion. I'm sure you have some lurking somewhere in your spice cabinet. I know my little jar has been hanging around for years. I admit it was a last minute thought, but it turned out to be a super flavor booster. Another change- I lowered the oven temp to 400 degrees, but stuck with the wire rack to prevent the vegetables from getting soggy. I cut the eggplant in 3/8 inch rounds, but with the zucchini I cut them (1/4 inch) on the bias as well as in rounds. I like the combination of the two shapes piled on the plate.

Oven Fried Eggplant
You can make this recipe using 2 small to medium zucchini- the amount of dredging ingredients will be the same

1 small/medium eggplant cut in 3/8 inch rounds- I semi peeled my eggplant so I had attractive purple stripes running along the sides
1 cup Panko bread flakes
1/4 cup AP flour
1 egg white whisked
1 tsp minced onion
1/2 tsp dried oregano
freshly ground black pepper
cooking spray
marinara sauce

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. Set up your dredging station: flour, egg white, and Panko. Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper to the flour and mix. Stir together Panko, minced onion, oregano, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Dip eggplant slices in flour, then in egg white and then in the seasoned Panko. This can seem rather tedious, probably because it really is. So when I'm dipping and dredging I keep my mind on the end result, and get through this boring task. Lightly coat the dredged eggplant with cooking spray on both sides and arrange on wire rack. Place the rack on top of a baking sheet (lined with parchment or foil) and bake 20 minutes. Turn eggplant over and bake 10 minutes more.

While the egplant is baking, heat up some marinara sauce for drizzling or dipping. I've been liking Classico tomato and basil. Not just because it tastes good, but it comes in small jars (14 oz) that are perfect for one or two people. Not too much waste.

If you make a double batch of these goodies, you'll probaby have some left over. Cold eggplant doesn't sound very appetizing. But mock pizza does. To your eggplant add a tablespoon or two of marinara sauce and top with shredded parmesan cheese. Microwave until cheese melts (about 1 minute). Instant snack.

Bon apetito.

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