This incredibly easy and delicious eggplant recipe comes together in only 15 minutes! Thinly sliced eggplant is smeared with garlic and herbs after it has been delicately pan fried. This is a side dish done right!
I have had a love hate relationship with eggplant. I really loved it in salads and as the main ingredient in eggplant parmesan…but that was about it. Plain grilled eggplant just never did it for me. I never got what the fuss was all about.
The Russians generally are big fans of eggplant. However, it is typically smeared or stuffed with mayo and perhaps some carrots, dill and random other ingredients that in my opinion do absolutely nothing for the recipe. Even as I write this, my upper lip is curling up in disgust. Please understand, it’s not that I dislike mayo, or carrots or dill, it’s just that I do not feel it should all be put together in one fattening and creamy blend and smeared onto soggy eggplant slices.
So a few weeks ago when I was at my friends house for New Year’s Eve and she mentioned that her mom was going to make her signature eggplant as one of the vegetarian dishes that I can eat…I knew I would starve.
Typically, I hate being wrong…but this time around, I was so glad I was. Her mom made the most delicately fried baby eggplants and then added some raw garlic on top. I rolled one up, placed it in my mouth and was instantly in love. They were tender, the edges were crispy and the garlic and herb mixture was precisely what this simple eggplant needed. As it turned out, this herb mixture was nothing more than a classic gremolata, basically a fancy way of saying an herb rub.
When I re-created this recipe at home the other day, hubs could not get enough and made me swear to not tell anyone that he ate vegan food. Oops.
The best part is this vegan and uber clean baby eggplant recipe fits perfectly into mine and hub’s clean eating plans as we get ready for our Valentine’s Day getaway to St. Maarten. (I know I am a lucky girl) The clean and simple flavors in this recipe are not only delicious but are good for you. An entire baby eggplant has only 65 calories and is sure to fill the bellies and please the taste buds! So fill up all you please because there is no guilt in devouring these babies!
Healthy Pan Fried Baby Eggplant with Garlic and Herbs
- 4 baby eggplants sliced thinly about 1/2 an inch thick.*
- 6 garlic cloves minced finely on microplane
- 3 tbsp chopped parsley
- zest off of 1/2 a lemon
- a pinch or more of red chili flakes
- 4 tbsp of olive oil
- vegan butter flavored pan spray
- salt and pepper to taste
Combine olive oil, garlic, parsley, lemon zest and chili flakes in a small pot. Heat over low heat to infuse the oil with flavor. This will only take 5 minutes or so, it is crucial that you do not allow the mixture to boil or you run the risk of burning the garlic.
Heat up a large pan or a griddle* over medium-high heat and spray with the pan spray.
Lay out the eggplant slices so they do not overlap and can cook evenly. Season with salt and pepper.
After 3-4 minutes, flip over to the other side and season the other side with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes.
With a pastry brush or a spoon, brush on the gremolata.
Recipe Notes1. You can use Japanese eggplants or regular eggplants as well. I just love baby eggplants and they happened to be on sale this week at the grocery store.
2. I really loved using my griddle for make these. I was able to cook them quickly and evenly and used minimal oil.