The Chinese began writing about eggplant in 544, and its popularity spread quickly in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. In late July, smaller Graffiti and Italian eggplants began arriving in CSAs and local farmer’s markets across America. These smaller specimens have fewer bitter seeds and a tender skin that make them perfect for making fries. Before this nightshade grows into larger fruit as the season progresses and generally requires salt to draw out excess water, make these healthy baked "fries". Creamy on the inside and crunchy on the outside, this aubergine dish is a crowd pleasing way to enjoy easy to grow summer vegetables.
For the Lemon Aioli
- Heat oven to 425 degrees F. and line a HALF SHEET BAKING TRAY with parchment paper.
- In a SHALLOW BOWL lightly beat the egg whites.
- In another bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, parsley, Parmesan, sea salt and pepper. Put 1/2 of the breadcrumb mixture into a shallow bowl.
- Dip each eggplant wedge into egg white bowl and then roll in the shallow panko mixture bowl to coat liberally. Add more panko mixture to the bowl as needed (if added all at once, the mixture may become soggy and the crumbs will not stick to the eggplant).
- Lay each wedge on prepared baking sheet and bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.
- In a SMALL BOWL add the mayonnaise and grate the garlic clove into it. Add the lemon zest, juice, and Parmesan. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve in the refrigerator until ready to use.
If the breadcrumb mixture starts to get too soggy from the egg whites, add some more of the Parmesan panko breadcrumbs to help dry it out. If not eating right out of the oven, pop the baked fries back in a 350 degree F. oven to crisp them up and heat them through just before serving.