Eggplant Milanese with Arugula Salad
Breaded Eggplant Cutlets are easy to make and are so versatile.
Simple, elegant, and easy. Eggplant Milanese is a vegetarian version of the dish that is traditionally made with thinly sliced chicken or veal. The creamy texture of the eggplant, when breaded and quickly pan-fried is both crispy and tender. A little squeeze of lemon brightens up the entire dish.
Eggplant Milanese is so simple and easy to make + it freezes well.
If you love eggplant parmesan you’ll love this skinny-ed down version of simple, breaded, and pan-fried crispy eggplant. The eggplant will be melt in your mouth tender with just the right amount of seasoning.
Make a big batch and freeze eggplant cutlets for quick eggplant parm hoagies or eggplant parmesan with angel hair pasta.
How to Choose and Store an Eggplant
Choosing an eggplant can seem a little mysterious. Behind the deep, almost black purple skin is a spongy cream-colored flesh that is a wonder fruit. Yep, eggplant isn’t a veggie at all – it’s a fruit.
- Look for a firm, glossy-skin eggplant without blemishes.
- It should feel heavy for its size.
- The top should still look supple not dried out and mold-free.
- Smaller eggplants are usually less bitter than larger ones.
Once you’ve found the perfect eggplant store them whole in the refrigerator. Remove them from any packaging (never leave fruits or veggies in those plastic bags from the grocery) and wrap gently in a paper towel. Use them in 2 to 4 days.
Eggplants are very perishable and the older they get the more likely they will have a little bitterness.
Do You Peel Eggplant?
The answer is maybe. The skin is edible, but can sometimes be bitter.
So let’s dig a little deeper. Most eggplant available in stores is grown to reduce any bitterness. Choose a smaller, younger eggplant and follow the suggestions above then you shouldn’t need to peel it. Older eggplants can be bitter.
When I’m grilling eggplant or breading it I like to leave the peel on. I peel my eggplant if I’m using it in a stir fry or sautéeing. Since I want the eggplant to soak up as much flavor as possible.
If you aren’t familiar with picking, prepping, and cooking eggplant the safe bet is to peel it, but the salting step in this recipe should eliminate any bitterness.
To peel the eggplant you can use a vegetable peeler or a pairing knife.
Either way is pretty easy.
How to Prep Eggplant
Always wash your produce before prepping. To wash an eggplant you simply need to run it under cold water and rub it with a paper towel to remove any dirt or debris.
To prepare eggplant for cooking:
- Cut off the top and blossom ends, and cut the eggplant as required for the recipe you are making, for Eggplant Milanese use a mandoline to slice very thin, 1/4 inch lengthwise slices.
- A 1-pound eggplant equals about 5 cups cubed.
- Place slices on a paper towel-lined wire rack and salt liberally on both sides. Top with more paper towels and continue layering until you have salted all the eggplant. Salting will help tighten the flesh and release some of the moisture. This helps keep your eggplant from soaking up too much oil and becoming soggy and greasy. Some recipes call for rinsing the eggplant before using, I don’t rinse the eggplant. The salt enhances the flavor and you can simply use less salt in the recipe.
How to Make Eggplant Milanese Super Crispy
Eggplant Milanese | How to Make Super Crispy Eggplant Cutlets
Pan-Fried Eggplant Cutlets are easy to make and are so versatile.
Eggplant cutlets are so easy to make and freeze beautifully. You’ll definitely want to make a double batch so you can freeze a bunch to make eggplant parmesan or eggplant Milanese whenever the craving hits.
How to Make Crispy Eggplant Cutlets
There are a few secrets to making perfectly crispy, tender eggplant cutlets for the eggplant Milanese.
These eggplant prep tricks will make sure your eggplant is never bitter.
One of the most important things to making crispy eggplant Milanese is to salt the eggplant about an hour before cooking to pull out excess moisture. It’s so simple and easy and will make a huge difference in how well your eggplant will crisp up.
Simply cut your eggplant, place on a wire rack lined with paper towels, salt on both sides, then top with another piece of paper towel. Let the eggplant rest for 30 minutes to an hour, then it’s ready to cook.
Tip # 2
The trick to getting a super crispy crust is to first dredge the eggplant in flour, then dip in a simple egg wash before coating in breadcrumbs.
Tip # 3
Make sure the oil in the bottom of the pan is super hot so the eggplant doesn’t absorb too much oil,
Make it a Meal
Make an Italian Dinner:
or your favorite Italian red table wine. I’m a fan of Chianti’s.
Eggplant Cutlets | Eggplant Milanese
- 2 Eggplant - small tender eggplants
- 1/3 c all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1-1/4 c Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1/4 c grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- sea salt and black pepper - to taste
- 1 T Italian seasoning
- 1 c olive oil - Extra-virgin olive oil for frying
- lemon wedges - for serving
- 6 arugula - for serving
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil - good quality
- 2 T balsamic vinegar - good quality
- 1 C cherry tomatoes - cut in half (cut through the stem)
- sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 2 oz BelGioioso All Natural Shaved Salad Blend - or shaved Parmesan, Romano and Asiago cheeses
- Eggplant Cutlets
- Slice eggplant very thinly, about a 1/4 inch thick. A mandoline or deli slicer makes this super easy and creates uniform slices that cook evenly. If cutting by hand make sure your knife is super sharp.
- Place the slices of eggplant in a single layer on a wire rack lined paper towels. Liberally sprinkle both sides with salt. Continue adding layers of salted eggplant between paper towels. Top the final layer with a paper towel.
- Let the eggplant sit covered for 30 minutes up to an hour at room temperature.
- Set out 3 plates for breading trays or plates.
- Place flour on the first plate (or tray) with salt and pepper to taste and 1 T Italian seasonings.
- In the second, beat the eggs with the cool water and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- In the third, mix together breadcrumbs, Parmigiano Reggiano, and a pinch of salt.
- Bread each chicken cutlet by dredging both sides in flour, then dipping in the egg wash to coat, and finally in the panko, gently pressing the breadcrumbs into the cutlet to adhere. In each step, let the excess coating fall off before moving to the next ingredient.
- Set breaded cutlets on a plate. To stack cutlets place parchment paper between layers.
- Using a larget skillet heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the skillet (about a 1/8 of an inch - the oil should be deep enough to cover half of the breaded eggplant) over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles.
- Cook cutlets keeping plenty of space between each eggplant cutlet. Cook for about 3-4 minutes per side, until the chicken is cooked through and the breading is golden brown.
- Transfer eggplant cutlets to a platter lined with paper towels.
- Drain excess oil then transfer to individual plates.
- Finish with a grind of sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (optional).
- Top with arugula salad and serve.
- In a large bowl whisk together oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I use about a single grind of salt and 2 or 3 grinds of black pepper).
- Add arugula and tomatoes to the mixture and toss well.
- Add the arugula salad to the plate with the chicken cutlets.
- Serve immediately.
Healthier Eggplant MilaneseEggplant Milanese can be made in your air fryer or oven and it cuts a few grams of fat and about 50 calories. To cook the Eggplant Milanese in the air fryer simply follow the steps above but instead of frying you can use your air fryer to get that wonderful crispy, crunchy breading.
- Spray chicken cutlets on each side with olive oil or vegetable oil spray.
- Cook chicken cutlets at 450 degrees F, flipping when the chicken starts to brown. The approximate cooking time is about 10 minutes.
- Cook until breading is golden brown, you may want to broil for a minute or two to get that dark golden brown.
- Remove any excess oil by patting with paper towels.
- Important. Freeze individual portions in a single layer on a tray. Place parchment paper between layers. Once frozen, you can transfer to a storage container.
- Will keep frozen for 3 months.
- Cook from frozen for your desired preparation method.