Makes 18 appetizers

Naples Eggplant Parmesan Bites

All the wonderful flavors of Eggplant Parmesan compacted into little appetizer size bites. First appearing in Naples, Italy in the 1800, the popularity of Eggplant Parmesan makes it an brilliant choice for an appetizer.  Easily assembled, this dish works well as a last minute appetizer especially if the garden is producing an abundance of eggplant.

The eggplant is sliced, salted and let to rest for 30 minutes to pull some of the moisture. This process keeps the eggplant from becoming a soggy mess during cooking.

Use a quality tomato sauce of choice but avoid any with added meats or vegetables. It should be a basic tomato pasta sauce to allow the eggplant to shine as the vegetable.

Serving with pesto provides a flavor boost and a wonderful color contrast. Taggiasca Basil Pesto with Roasted Walnuts can easily be made while the bites are cooking.

1 medium eggplant
2 T kosher salt
2 c seasoned breadcrumbs
1 c grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
1 egg
½ c milk
½ c flour
2 c tomato based pasta sauce
¼ c pesto, such as Taggiasca Basil Pesto

Heat oven to 350°.

Flavor Tier 1

Peel and slice eggplant lengthwise. Place slices on paper towels and sprinkle with the kosher salt. Let eggplant sit for 30 minutes. Pat dry.

Flavor Tier 2

Heat griddle to 350°. Place the bread crumbs and 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano in a pie pan and combine. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl. Add the milk and combine. Place the flour in a pie pan. Spray the griddle with cooking spray.

For each eggplant slice, dredge in the flour; dip in the egg mix and press in the breadcrumbs to cover. Place slices on the hot griddle. Cook 3-4 minutes until browned. Turn and cook an additional 3-4 minutes until browned. Remove to a cutting board. Once the slices are cool enough to handle, cut into ½” cubes.

Flavor Tier 3

Spray the cups of a cake ball pan or mini muffin pan. In the cups, place 1 teaspoon of pasta sauce.

Flavor Tier 4

Add several eggplant cubes.

Flavor Tier 5

Add 1 teaspoon pasta sauce and 1/2 teaspoon of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Flavor Tier 6

Repeat one additional layer of eggplant cubes and pasta sauce.

Place pan in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Flavor Tier 7

Place a foil lined baking sheet over the cake ball pan. Invert. Immediately sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

To Serve

Place 3-4 eggplant bites on each plate. Add 1 tablespoon pesto to each plate.