This recipe uses eggplant as a plant-based version of a classic Italian Milanese, which is often seen with a veal chop as the main protein. However, I'm a firm believer in recipe adaptation and experimentation, and found that a basic template exists in this breaded treat. A simple and swift supper that can be set-up in advance (in part), a choose-your-own-adventure milanese might bring back that mealtime magic you've been missing.
[Some proteins to get you going: Cutlets of any kind, pork or veal chops, eggplant, cauliflower steaks, or even portobello mushroom caps would al be outstanding] —Jr0717
For the salad:
large tomato (or 2 medium, or approximately 1 1/4 cups cherry tomatoes)
greens: approximately 1 cup (smushed, not packed) arugula, watercress, spinach, or fresh herbs (I used a mix of cilantro, parsley, and basil for the eggplant milanese)
For the Eggplant (protein):
protein, plant-based or otherwise, in a quantity fitting for four people. Use your judgment based on what you choose to bread and fry up. I used two healthy eggplants for four people in this case.
seasoned breadcrumbs (store-bought or homemade)
plus 2 tablespoons grated parmesan or locatelli cheese (reserve 2 tablespoons for sprinkling on just-fried protein)
Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, rice wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar together in a small bowl.
Dice the onion and tomato (alternatively, chop them into bite-sized pieces. Whichever you prefer, but do make them relatively small). Roughly chop your greens into shreds and/or a chiffonade.
Toss the onion, tomato, and greens with the dressing, and let marinate while you prepare the protein (in this case, the eggplant).
For the Eggplant (protein):
Slice your protein (if needed) or prepare as necessary for breading. (For veal chops or cutlets of any kind, obviously slicing isn't necessary)
Place breadcrumbs in a large bowl and add the grated cheese; mix to incorporate. In another bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly until uniformly yellow and season with salt and pepper.
Bread your protein, dipping it in the egg wash and then in the breadcrumbs, coating both sides well. Lay on a sheet tray until everything is breaded.
Heat the oil gently, over medium-low flame, in a large, shallow frying pan. Line a large sheet tray with paper toweling for draining. Alternatively, set a raised cooling rack on the sheet tray to allow oil to drip off.
Fry your protein until golden brown on both sides and cooked through. When each piece is removed from the pan to the draining tray, sprinkle with reserved cheese. (If frying a lot, keep the fried proteins warm in an oven set to the 'keep warm' setting, or about 100 degrees F)
Arrange your proteins on a serving platter and top with the marinated salad. Serve immediately, and feel cool for pulling off an elegant meal with ease!