Deep burgundy, summer eggplant (aka aubergine) slices pair wonderfully with chive yogurt in this fun and flavorful vegetarian dish. If you follow the recipe, you will be rewarded with slices that are crispy on the outside and delightfully soft on the inside. A lot of recipes for fried eggplant slices call for herbs to be added to the breading mixture, I opted to add herbs/chives to my yogurt dip instead. Other recipes ask for Parmigiano Reggiano to be added to the breadcrumbs, I opted for white and black sesame seeds as well as Za'atar, a the Middle Eastern spice mixture. If you are unable to get Za'atar at a store or online, you can prepare the mix yourself, I included the recipe in this post.
Personally, I like to serve these Eggplant Schnitzel as a seasonal summer appetizer or side dish. But they are also delicious in a bun (think veggie burger here, maybe with some avocado slices on top), on a salad, or on their own for a light lunch or dinner.
And they are much easier to make than you might think if you remember one important detail: first you fry, then you bake. So, once you have fried the eggplant slices in your pan to golden deliciousness, place them on kitchen paper to get rid of some of the excess oil and THEN place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a hot oven for a good 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how thick your slices are - until delightfully soft and silky on the inside. Voilà.
Eggplant (Aubergine) Schnitzel with Chive Yogurt Dip
Ingredients for the Chive Yogurt Dip
- 200g (7oz) plain Greek yogurt (I used regular Greek yoghurt)
- 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- chives (I like to use chives here but pls feel free to use other soft herbs that you might have on hand, dill is amazing here as well), make sure to keep some chives/herbes for the topping
- olive oil (about 2 to 3 tbsps, to taste)
- large pinch of sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Ingredients for the Eggplant Schnitzel
- 100g (3½oz) plain (AP) flour
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 to 3 eggs (M), free range or organic
- 150g (5 ½oz) breadcrumbs (it is best to use homemade breadcrumbs here)
- about 1 tbsp Za’atar (NOTE: depending on the brand of Za’atar you use, this might vary, you might want to use less or more here)
- 2 tbsps black and white sesame seeds
- 2 eggplants (aubergines), washed, dried well and cut crosswise into 1.5 to 2cm (0.6 to 0.8in) thick slices
- vegetable oil, for shallow frying
- sea salt for sprinkling the finished eggplant slices (optional)
Ingredients for the Za'ater Spice Mixture
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1 tbsp sumac
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
- fine sea salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- To make the Za'atar (if making): combine all the ingredients and keep in a spice jar. Any leftovers are fabulous if added to olive oil for a terrific dip.
- To make the yogurt dip: in a medium bowl add the yogurt and combine with the remaining yogurt ingredients. Place in the fridge while preparing and cooking the eggplant slices.
- Preheat oven to 200°C (395°F).
- For the eggplant schnitzel: mix the flour, pepper and salt in a medium bowl. In a second bowl beat the eggs. In a third bowl mix the breadcrumbs, Za’atar and the sesame seeds.
- Dip the epplant slices in the four mixture and shake off the excess. Then dip into the egg and shake off any drips and finally coat in the breadcrumb mixture. Set aside but do not place in the fridge.
- Heat 3cm of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
- Cook the eggplant slices, in batches, turning halfway, for 4 to 6 minutes or until golden.
- Place on a large, parchment lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender.
- Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
- Take the yogurt dip out of the fridge, taset for seasoning and if need be, add more pepper and salt. Finish with a drizzle of good quality olive oil, additional chopped herbs/chives.
- Just before serving, sprinkle the slightly cooled eggplant slices with your favorite coarse sea salt (optional) and serve with the chive yogurt. NOTE: serves about 4.
If you have herbs growing in your garden, like red or white bush basil, sage, rosemary etc. pick a few herb blossoms and add them to your dip as this adds another delightful flavor component and looks very pretty if you ask me.
And remember these are equally delicious served piping hot, fresh out of the oven or at room temperature. Enjoy!