"A way to use crunchy panko bread crumbs and delicious beer batter to make a filling main dish or a tasty appetizer. By using beer, this recipe doesn't require eggs, making it vegetarian. Use substitutions suggested in the notes to make it completely vegan. Use garden vegetables and herbs to make your own marinara sauce to add an extra special touch!"
Place eggplant on paper towels; cover with 1 teaspoon salt. Let sit until moisture is drawn out, 10 to 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Heat canola oil in a deep fry pan over medium heat.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; add the leek. Cook and stir until leek is slightly translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in spinach; cook until slightly wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook and stir until spinach is fully wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Combine panko, Parmesan cheese, and parsley in a bowl. Whisk flour, paprika, salt, and pepper together in a separate bowl; pour in beer. Whisk until batter is loose, adding more beer if batter is too thick. Dredge eggplant in the batter, allowing excess to run off; coat in panko mixture.
Drop 1 pinch of panko into the canola oil to test the heat. It should bubble up without splattering out. Fry battered eggplant for 30 seconds; flip. Fry until golden brown, about 30 seconds. Place on a paper towel to drain.
Combine spinach mixture, ricotta cheese, salt, and pepper in a bowl; spread an even amount onto 4 of the fried eggplant slices. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese; cover with a second slice of fried eggplant. Top with mozzarella cheese. Place onto a baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven until cheese is golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Swap vegan cheese substitute for the mozzarella, tofu for the ricotta, and skip the parmesan to make it completely vegan!
With the filling, you can spread it between slices for the "stacked effect" before baking in the oven, or you can create a "stuffed eggplant" by rolling up some of the mixture in each slice of eggplant and placing a toothpick through (pre-soaked to avoid burning) to hold it together while baking. This makes it more of an appetizer than a meal.
To add more protein or to bulk up the meal, use a meat sauce or a sauce with meat substitute.
We have determined the nutritional value of oil for frying based on a retention value of 10% after cooking. Amount will vary depending on cooking time and temperature, ingredient density, and specific type of oil used.
Per Serving: 283 calories;15 g fat;
24.1 g carbohydrates;
16.2 g protein;
32 mg cholesterol;
687 mg sodium.