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A white plate filled with noodles, marinara and topped with 3 pieces of air fryer eggplant.

AIR FRYER EGGPLANT

5 from 2 votes
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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
This {30-Minute} Air Fryer Eggplant is SUPER crispy, crunchy and goes perfectly with pasta and marinara, topped with fresh basil. It's a great option for a fancy-ish weeknight dinner that is sure to impress.
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Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant - about 1 pound, the more narrow the better, as the slices will be smaller in circumference
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or soy milk
  • 2 flax eggs - 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed + 6 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour - can also use arrowroot/cornstarch or gluten-free flour
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 3/4 cups panko or regular breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups favorite marinara sauce
  • 8 ounces favorite pasta noodles - linguine or fettuccine works well
  • 1/4 cup chopped - or chiffonade fresh basil (optional but recommended)
  • Almond Ricotta - optional but HIGHLY recommended (can also use Tofu Ricotta for nut-free)

Instructions

  • Prepare Almond Ricotta (or Tofu Ricotta) in advance. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • If you are making pasta noodles, you can start boiling the (salted) water at this time. Then boil according to package instructions, to al dente, and drain.
  • Prepare the flax eggs by grinding 2 tablespoons whole flax seeds in a coffee grinder. Add to a small bowl and add 6 tablespoons of water. Stir and let sit 5 minutes to thicken.
    The process of making a flax egg
  • Next, cut the eggplant into 1/4-1/2 inch rounds (no need to peel). Transfer cutlets to a plate or flat surface, Or, if planning to bake instead of air fry, add to baking sheets covered in parchment paper- see stovetop instructions in notes).
    Sliced eggplant on a cutting board.
  • Next, prepare 3 dipping stations with small/medium bowls... 1) almond milk and flax eggs; stir with a whisk, 2) the flour, Italian seasoning and garlic powder, mixed together, and 3) the breadcrumbs.
    3 bowls showing the 3 stations of making air fryer eggplant- almond milk, flour and breadcrumbs.
  • Dip each eggplant cutlet, one at a time, into the almond milk, shake off, then into to the flour to coat, then back into the almond milk again, and finally into the breadcrumbs to coat.
  • Place each piece of breaded eggplant back onto the cutting boards (or you can immediately add some to the air fryer and start cooking while continuing to bread the rest of the eggplant- see air fryer instructions below). Repeat this process until all of the eggplant is breaded.
    A piece of sliced breaded eggplant on a cutting board, showing the process of adding breadcrumbs to the eggplant.
  • When ready, add a few pieces of the eggplant to the air fryer basket in a single layer (how many will depend on the size of your air fryer). You can use a wire rack or, for easy cleanup, an air fryer silicone basket. Set to 390 F for 11 minutes and press Start. Check the eggplant about 8-9 minutes into cooking time to ensure it's not too crispy for your liking. Remove eggplant with tongs.
    2 photos showing 2 ways of cooking the eggplant, in a silicone basket, and another without.
  • While you are cooking the eggplant, you can warm your marinara sauce. Use a microwavable safe container to do this, or warm on the stove.
  • To serve, add a layer of noodles and sauce, a few slices of the crispy eggplant, a spoonful of the Almond Ricotta (on top of the eggplant), and a little more marinara and basil, if desired. Eat with a fork and knife, and enjoy!
    A white plate filled with noodles, marinara and topped with 3 pieces of air fryer eggplant.
  • Store this Air Fryer Eggplant in an airtight container in the fridge. Note, it will soften as it sits, but will reheat very well. To reheat, add eggplant to air fryer at 390 for 5-6 minutes.

Notes

  • You'll find that many recipes require you to add salt to the eggplant slices before cooking to remove bitterness. After doing a bit of research (and experimenting), we've found this step isn't necessary. If you are frying the eggplant in oil, this step might be worth it. But for this recipe, you can skip this step.
  • Nutrition information is for eggplant only, and does not include ricotta cheese, marinara or pasta noodles.
  • For gluten-free. you can use gluten-free spaghetti or spaghetti squash. Also use gluten-free breadcrumbs and chickpea and/or gluten free flour. All of these combinations were tested with this recipe and work well.
  • Baking Instructions: Place breaded eggplant on a large baking pan covered in parchment paper. Bake at 400 F for 30 minutes, flipping once halfway through. Then set the oven to a high broil, and broil for about 3-4 minutes. Both sides should be golden brown. If not, broil on either side 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn.

Nutrition

Calories: 344kcal | Carbohydrates: 61.8g | Protein: 11.4g | Fat: 5.9g | Sodium: 397mg | Sugar: 11.4g
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