Eggplants are commonly thought of as a vegetable but they are actually a fruit, kinda like tomatoes. They are purple, phallic, spongy wonders that often intimated people. I have had so many people tell me they have no idea what to do with an eggplant. This is no excuse! It is incredibly versatile and can be baked, roasted, grilled, fried or sautéed. Because it has such a mild flavor we have found it to be an excellent meat substitute with the right seasonings. It goes well with just about anything and can the be main focus of a meal or an impressive side dish.
Eggplants are a nutrient-dense food, meaning they contain a good amount of vitamins, minerals and fiber in few calories. In addition to containing a variety of vitamins and minerals, eggplants boast a high number of antioxidants. Thanks to their antioxidant content, some studies suggest that eggplants may help reduce the risk of heart disease and even help control blood sugar levels.
My families favorite eggplant meal is when I make Eggplant Nuggets. They look like chicken nuggets but are way healthier for you! My toddler devours them and begs for more! If you have a small Are Fryer like me it does take a while to make but it’s well worth it! When we decided to stop eating chicken we worried about giving up our favorite meals. We like Chinese take out as much as the next guy so we found a way to have our cake and eat it too! These can be tailored to each family member too! I cook them all the same and then leave them plain (like chicken nuggets) for my toddler, toss them in a spicy sauce for my husband and sweet & sour or teriyaki for me. You wont believe how good these are! They are also very easy to make!
- 1-2 Eggplants (1 large eggplant will make about 4 servings)
- 3-6 Eggs
- 6 cups Fine Breadcrumbs
- Garlic Seasoning (to taste)
- Pepper (to taste)
- Olive Oil (to spritz)
- Remove the skin from your eggplant(s) and chop into bite sized chunks. No need to remove the seeds, it all goes in!
- In a bowl scramble 3 eggs with a fork.
- In a larger bowl or a bag place your breadcrumbs and seasonings of choice.
- Dip about 5-6 eggplant chunks in the egg and gently shake to remove excess.
- Place the egg covered eggplant chunks in the breadcrumb mixture and coat completely.
- Dip those same eggplant chunks back into the egg and gently shake to remove excess.
- Coat again in the breadcrumb mix and gently form into a nugget with your hands.
- Set the coated nuggets aside and repeat with more eggplant chunks.
- Once you have enough for a batch in your air fryer, place them in a single layer and lightly spritz with olive oil.
- I cooked mine on the french fry setting which is 400 degrees (F) for 20 minutes. Every 5 minutes open the fryer, toss the nuggets and spritz with olive oil. This will keep them from getting too dried out.
- As each batch cooks continue coating more eggplant chucks until all are nuggets ready for frying.
Now at this stage you can eat them plain, dip them in some ketchup or ranch, serve them to a hungry child. Whatever you want to do! Or you can continue on to level up!
- Warm up your preferred sauce. My husband like General Tsao, where I prefer sweet & sour or Teriyaki.
- Toss the cooked nuggets in the warmed sauce and serve over rice or veggies!
We made some dirty fried rice to go with ours and it was a healthy vegetarian Chinese takeout that tasted better than the restaurants!