Target Health Blog

Eggplant Appetizer with My Easy Garlic-y Marinara Dip

September 23, 2019

Target Healthy Eating

We recently served this delicious appetizer to guests, who gobbled them down with icy Bellinis and wine (red & white). ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
This appetizer must be served warm (dip warm also). The real flavor does not come out when it's cold. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
Impressive when served, this recipe is easy to put together. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
Crunchy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside, you'll want to serve this finger food again and again. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Extra virgin olive oil for frying

Handful of fresh garlic cloves, for cooking

1 large eggplant, sliced thin on a mandolin

salt for sprinkling over eggplant

1 pound fresh buffalo or burrata mozzarella (thinly sliced)

basil leaves, rinsed, then dried with paper towels

2 extra large or jumbo eggs, beaten

1/2 cup chickpea flour

Panko Mixture Ingredients

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

Zest of 1 lemon

1 cup Panko

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan

Ingredients for the eggplant appetizer. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


1. Make the Panko mixture now, then set aside. If you have some leftover, save it for another recipe.

Adding lemon zest to the Panko. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
Beautiful fresh basil, about to pat dry. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

2. Slice the eggplant on a mandolin

Make very thin eggplant slices with your mandolin. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
You will salt each of these slices for 30 minutes; salt both sides. Then rinse the salt off, and pat dry. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
  1. Whisk the egg
  2. Sprinkle the salt onto the eggplants slices and let rest for 30 minutes. This will remove liquid from the eggplant, which, if not removed, will ruin the recipe.
  3. After 30 minutes, rinse the salt from the eggplant slices and pat them dry with paper towel.
  4. Make thin slices of mozzarella with a sharp knife.
This, the most delicious of all the types of mozzarella, is the creamy burrata. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

7. Make circular sandwiches out of 2 slices of eggplant with a slice of mozzarella and a basil leaf in between the eggplant.

The easiest sandwich you'll ever make. Slice of mozzarella and one fresh basil leaf, top with another eggplant slice. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
  1. Dredge each side of the eggplant sandwich, first in the flour.
  2. Next, cover each side with the egg and finally, cover each side with the Panko mixture, that you prepared in advance.
  3. Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat, add a handful of fresh garlic cloves (for extra flavor) and fry each prepared eggplant, until golden brown on each side. This should take anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes for each eggplant. Fit as many eggplant pieces into the skillet, but don't crowd the pan. Do a few at a time, if you have to.
Heat oil in large skillet with handful of fresh garlic cloves. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
After putting together each eggplant sandwich, dredge it first, on both sides, in flour. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
Then, dip both sides of the eggplant sandwich into the beaten eggs. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
Step 3: Cover both sides of eggplant sandwich with the special Panko mixture. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
Cooking the eggplant. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
Just flipped them over (be careful). They smell so-o good! ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
  1. When done, remove from pan and let drain for a few minutes on paper towel.
  2. Finally, cut each eggplant, into four bite-size pieces. Arrange on a platter and serve in the center of the platter, my version of marinara sauce (warmed up), or yours or store-bought.
This tastes even better than it looks. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

My Version Marinara Sauce

Feel free to add or subtract from my recipe, so you have a sauce that's totally to your own taste


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (some people swear by butter, but I prefer OO. You decide)

1 onion, finely chopped

3 anchovy fillets ground in mortar & pestle with 3 garlic cloves

12 more fresh garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 sprigs fresh basil, or several leaves

1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano

1 pinch black pepper (or more to your taste)

2 pinches chili flakes (or more to your taste)

1 28-ounce can CENTO whole San Marzano tomatoes

1 small can CENTO tomato paste


1.     Use a large skillet and add the olive oil, over a medium flame. Add the onion, the anchovy/garlic paste, the rest of the garlic.

2.     When garlic gets soft, but NOT BROWN, CENTO tomatoes and paste. Swirl water in both cans to get every last bit of the tomato liquid out of the cans and add to skillet. Crush the tomatoes with a fork or masher, right in the pan.

3.     To the skillet, add the chili flakes, black pepper, oregano. Stir.

4.     Add the fresh basil and watch it wilt on the surface of the sauce, then stir it into the sauce.

5.     Lower your heat to a simmer and cook the sauce until it thickens, which should be about 15 minutes.

6.     Turn off heat until ready to serve. Just before serving, with a slotted spoon, remove the basil leaves.

Note: You will probably have some sauce leftover, so save it in the fridge and use it for pasta during the week or as a sauce for meatballs or meatloaf or chicken or fish.

Sort of a farewell to summer, icy Bellinis. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

Bon Appetit!

From Our Table to Yours

Have a Great Week Everyone!

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