If you don’t routinely use eggplant in your cooking, the idea of buying a bunch, and then frying and freezing it might sound like an odd proposition. Here’s why we do it, and recommend you do it, too!
Eggplant might not be one of those ingredients you add to your grocery list each week, but there are so many delicious ways you can cook up this notorious nightshade. Frying it is one of our favorites.
I’m not going to lie, one of the biggest motivations for freezing fried eggplant is the sole fact that frying it is a seriously lengthy process.
If you’ve done it yourself, then you know what I mean. After slicing the fruit (yes, fruit), you must salt it for about 30 minutes to extract the bitter-tasting moisture. Then it’s a quick rinse and drying session before traditionally breading it and frying it up. Phew.
Going through all those steps can sometimes steer you from cooking a lovely dinner when you are on a time crunch. That’s why we always spend a quiet afternoon doing the task, so we always have it on hand for dinner recipes.
Frying eggplant takes time, but once you’ve done it, you might as well save a few slices to use for later. It freezes well, re-crisps just right, and will become just the ingredient you need in many dishes.
Here’s a little more about why we love storing eggplant in the freezer:
- It keeps well: Lucky for you, we’ve done this enough to know that frozen fried eggplant will keep for months on end if stored correctly.
- You can air fry it: Just like other fried and frozen foods, eggplant crisps right back up in the air fryer.
- It’s a dinner saver: When you’re short on time and need an impressive, but quick and simple, dinner, pre-fried eggplant can be a real lifesaver.
Whether you plan to snack on a crispy slice with marinara sauce or need something to spruce up a casserole, pre-fried eggplant can really work wonders.
Fried eggplant adds flavor and fantastic texture to various meals and becomes the main ingredient in many entrees. We always take the eggplant out of the freezer and sit at room temperature before working with it. Once it starts to defrost, it softens a bit and becomes easy to chop up.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to use fried eggplant:
- Eggplant Parmesan: Make your Eggplant Parmesan just as you normally would by layering it into your baking pan with marinara, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella cheese.
- Eggplant Parmesan grinders: Smear a bit of garlic butter on one side of a sliced, open-faced grinder roll. Layer your eggplant with marinara and fresh mozzarella on the dry side, place in the oven, and bake for about 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
- Add it to pizza: We always do this and it tastes really yummy on a regular-crust pizza, but it’s even better on a deep-dish.
- Make an Italian casserole: Cooked cavatappi or rigatoni mixed with a homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella pearls, and chopped fried eggplant makes a meal to remember. After baking it to perfection, be sure to serve it garnished with fresh basil.
- Eggplant grilled cheese: Layer eggplant, light marinara, fresh basil leaves, and fresh mozzarella between two slices of sourdough with pesto smeared on the inside. Spread butter on the outside and grill it up in a pan. Feel free to finish it in the air fryer for a few minutes to make sure everything is warm inside.
These are just five ways we love to use fried eggplant. From crostinis to baked feta toppers, there’s plenty more you can do with eggplant, so let your culinary imagination run wild and get cooking!
When it comes to eggplant, the cooking possibilities are endless, which is why it’s such a good idea to always have some ready to go in your freezer. Not only is it delicious on just about anything, but its meaty texture and unique flavor also make the perfect meat substitute for vegetarian dishes.