Your family and friends will flip for this flavorful finger food. They're super crispy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth soft on the inside. Plus, one Parmesan-rich serving provides an impressive 12 grams of protein for only 140 calories. I use eggplant as the base because it breads up easily and softens quickly in the oven. Bonus: This fiber-rich veggie contains heart-healthy antioxidants, called anthocyanins, which are responsible for their vibrant purple hue. Try dipping these heavenly fries into warm marinara sauce and your taste buds will be dancing with appreciation.
Swap option: For a lower-carb and gluten-free rendition, swap in almond flour.
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 medium eggplant
- 3 egg whites
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, preferably whole-grain
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Marinara sauce, store-bought or homemade (optional; for dipping)
1. Preheat oven to 420°F. Liberally mist 2 baking sheets (or 1 large) with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
2. Cut off both ends of the eggplant, slice it in half lengthwise, and cut the entire vegetable into fry-like sticks, about 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick and 3-inches long.
3. Place the egg whites in a shallow bowl and whisk. In a separate wide, shallow bowl, combine the Parmesan cheese, panko breadcrumbs, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt and pepper (remove half of the mixture, set aside and use it to refill the breadcrumb bowl as needed; this helps to keep it fresh and dry as the egg wash can sometimes make the bowl filled with breadcrumb topping wet and clumpy).
4. Set up your prep station in this order: first eggplant slices, second egg whites, third parm-breadcrumb topping and fourth baking sheet(s).
5. One at a time, dunk the eggplant slices in egg whites and then submerge it into the bowl with breadcrumb topping, pressing to make sure it adheres on all sides. Then, place the fries on the prepared baking sheet(s), leaving space between each one.
6. Bake on the top rack in the oven for 15-20 minutes until browned and crispy. Remove your fries from the baking sheet using a wide spatula, scraping the bottom of the pan while lifting them up to ensure the bottom topping stays intact.
7. Serve with warm marinara sauce for dunking, if desired.