Breaded eggplant cutlets are a typical recipe of the Sicilian tradition, especially of the province of Palermo. Tasty and Crispy, this Italian recipe wants few simple ingredients for a really amazing taste.
Breaded eggplant cutlets are made with slices of eggplant dipped in egg, then in bread crumbs and grated cheese, finally fried in seed oil.
Crunchy on the outside with a firm consistency on the inside, vegetarian cutlets are irresistible. They’ll win over all your guests and even your children, who usually don’t like vegetables very much…but these? They can’t resist!
You can think of breaded eggplant cutlets as the vegetarian version of the famous Italian Chicken cutlets or Veal Milanese. In fact this Sicilian dish was born as a poor dish of the peasant tradition, to replace the more expensive cutlets recipe made with meat.
Fried eggplants are still prepared in the itinerant fry shops in which it’s easy to come across in the alleys of Palermo. In all the typical Sicilian gastronomies, close to the delicious Arancini, you can always find breaded fried eggplants, especially in summer when this vegetable is very tasty, young and firm.
You can serve eggplant cutlets as a side dish or as an appetizer, but also as a delicious snack to enjoy with friends or as a vegetarian main course.
Try other Italian eggplant recipes:
- Pasta alla Norma recipe
- Authentic Sicilian Caponata
- Italian Eggplant Meatballs | Polpette di Melanzane
How to Make Breaded Eggplant Cutlets
- Prep Time: 30 Min
- Cook Time: 5 Min
- 2 round eggplants (about 400 g/ 14 oz)
- 80 g (3 oz) of grated Caciocavallo cheese (you can replace it with Parmigiano cheese or Pecorino Romano)
- 150 g (5 oz) of bread crumbs
- 2 whole eggs
- a pinch of fine salt
- a tablespoon of coarse salt
- 400 ml of peanut oil
Step 1) – Wash and dry the eggplants. Cut them into slices of about 1 cm (about 1/3 of an inch). Place them in a colander and sprinkle with a little coarse salt. Let them lose their bitter water for at least 30 minutes. After this time, rinse them under running water to remove the salt. Dry them well with some kitchen paper.
Step 2) – Meanwhile beat the eggs in a bowl with a fork and add a pinch of fine salt to taste.
Step 3) – Grate the cheese. Sicilian tradition wants very seasoned Caciocavallo cheese, but Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese are a good choice too for this recipe. The important thing is to get high quality cheese. Grate it when necessary, don’t buy it already grated!
In a bowl mix the breadcrumbs together with the grated cheese. Even for the bread crumbs, if you can, make them at home with some leftover bread. For more information, how-to and tips, take a look to our recipe how to make Homemade Italian Bread Crumbs.
Step 4) – Now dip the eggplant slices in the eggs. Then bread them. Make the bread crumbs and cheese adhere well over the whole eggplant slice, pressing well with a fork.
Step 5) – When all the slices are ready to be cooked, get ready with the oil for frying. So in a large frying pan, pour all the oil. Once the oil has become hot (you see it by dipping a small piece of breaded eggplant: if you see bubbles on the surfice, it means that the oil is at the right temperature), dip the breaded eggplant cutlets.
Step 6) – Fry the eggplants for about 5/6 minutes, turning them several times. Once they are golden on both sides, remove them from the oil.
Step 7) – Dry them on a kitchen paper and bring to the table. Your Breaded Eggplant Cutlets are ready, serve immediately!
Storage: Frozen Breaded Eggplant Cutlets
Breaded eggplant cutlets are excellent if eaten hot, that is as soon as they are ready. Any form of storage is not recommended.
However, you can prepare the eggplant slices ahead of time and freeze them raw, already breaded. Cook them on the spot without defrosting.
More over, if you have leftover eggplant cutlets, because you made too many, you can definitely use them to make an amazing Eggplant Parmigiana. Be careful not to add more cheese but only mozzarella, otherwise they will become too much tasty!
Breaded Eggplant Cutlets: Variants
FOR A LIGHTER VERSION: you can prepare fried Eggplants Sicilian-style, baked in the oven. In this case, cut the eggplant slices a little thinner. After having breaded the eggplants slices, arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle them with a drizzle of oil. Bake at 200°C (390 F) for about 15 minutes, turning them halfway through cooking. Baked eggplant cutlets will only be lighter, but certainly no less delicious!
FINGER FOOD VERSION: the typical shape of breaded eggplants is that of a large and round slice that is more reminiscent of a cutlet of meat. But for your aperitifs with friends or for your buffet dinners, a smaller size is certainly easier and more handy. So cut the eggplants into cubes of about 2/3 cm (about 1 inch). Then pass them in the egg and in the breadcrumbs. Finally fry them in plenty of seed oil. Drain them on absorbent paper and serve in small single-portion glasses or even in nice skewers.
What is the Secret of Perfect Sicilian Fried Eggplants? Cheese in Bread Crumbs
The addition of grated cheese to bread crumbs is the secret for perfect breaded eggplant cutlets recipe.
The cheese makes the breading more crunchy and tasty. It makes the dish richer and more complete than eggplants fried only with flour or only with bread crumbs. For this reason Sicilian eggplants cutlets are considered more as an appetizer or a second course than a side dish.
Sicilians uses mostly very seasoned Caciocavallo cheese, but Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano are a great alternative for this recipe.
What is Caciocavallo Cheese?
Caciocavallo also known as “Provola” is a seasoned spun paste cheese, typical of southern Italy and in particular of Sicily and Calabria regions. It has the typical rounded shape of a sack tightened by a lace, like a bundle.
The history of Caciocavallo goes back to 500 BC when Hippocrates first mentioned the cleverness of the Greeks in making it.
Caciocavallo is produced with rather fatty milk from Podolic cows with rennet, lactic ferments and salt. Caciocavallo can be spicy or sweet, depending on the rennet. The flavor is intense, initially sweet and melting, more spicy with aging.
The forms of Caciocavallo are aged from a minimum of 15 days to over two years or more. To make fried eggplants we recommend a Caciocavallo tasty and seasoned (at least 6 months) to be able to grate it. For this reason it’s better not to salt too much.
Within the vast and somewhat generic production of ‘Caciocavallo’ or ‘Provola’ in southern Italy, the Silano variety represents a denomination of protected origin product since 1993. Despite its name, it’s not exclusively produced on the Sila, but in many other regions of southern Italy.
Why this Curious Name “Caciocavallo”?
It seems that the name “Caciocavallo“, which means “cheese on horseback,” comes from the fact that these cheeses are tied in pairs and matured astride (in italian “a cavallo“) of a horizontal stick.
Some believe that this name was born at the time of the Kingdom of Naples, when it was customary to brand the cheese with a mark representing a horse (it=cavallo).