A Healthy Twist on Fries: Baked Eggplant Fries

There's nothing better than a crispy french fry; golden and crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. However, sometimes a greasy french fry is too much. But there is a substitution you can make that will satisfy those crispy and crunchy fry cravings, minus the extra calories.

Eggplant not only is a wonderful vegetable to add to lasagna for a vegetarian twist on the Italian classic, but it also serves as a great alternative to French fries.

The thick flesh holds up nicely when coated with the crunchy bread-crumb exterior, and you won't even notice that you're eating vegetables instead of a starch.

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and place a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil on a baking sheet.

Next, wash an eggplant or two smaller eggplants and slice into strips. The thickness of each strip is up to you. If you want steak fries, make thicker wedges, but if you want a thinner fry, make sure to slice the eggplant into finer strips. Once you have all of your eggplant strips, prepare your egg white wash and bread-crumb mixture.

The egg white wash is what will allow the bread crumbs to stick to the eggplant. Rather than using oil, use two egg whites -- this will help reduce the amount of calories in the fries.

So, in one bowl whisk two egg whites, and in another combine one cup of regular bread crumbs and two cups of Panko bread crumbs with whatever extra spices and seasonings you prefer. I decided to use cracked black pepper and a little bit of garlic powder. You can certainly use herbs, like Herbes de Provence or parsley and oregano; it's up to you.

Assemble your baking sheet on the side of the Panko bread crumbs so you can systematically dip the eggplant into the egg whites, then into the bread crumbs and then lay on the baking sheet.

Once you have all the eggplant on the baking sheet, place the sheet in the oven for approximately ten minutes if the eggplant fries are thin, and about 20 minutes if they are thicker. The main objective is to get the fries crispy.

After the eggplant fries have finished baking in the oven, sprinkle them with salt, place the fries on a plate and serve with whatever sauce you prefer to dip them in. Marinara sauce or ranch dressing always works, but if you like a barbecue sauce with your fries, I recommend a spicy raspberry chipotle sauce.

The fries will be crispy because of the extra Panko in the bread-crumb mixture and because the flesh of the eggplant is thick enough to disguise the fact that these are not starchy potatoes.

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Molly Dunn
Contact: Molly Dunn