If you're like me and the rest of the world, the week after a long weekend can be rough. Especially when said long weekend marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall and all the get-it-togetherness that fall seems to call for. You see, I'm applying to grad school for next fall and application deadlines are now suddenly approaching. And I don't know why but just admitting it to the world seems so terrifying. Sometimes I wish I was the person I was 5 years ago, she was braver, less worried about money and consequences and failure, less realistic, but oh so bold and fearless. She wouldn't have been afraid. So in channeling my former self, I admit I'm applying to grad school. MSW and PsyD. programs to pursue a career that allows me to work in mental health, and more specifically which allows me to incorporate the yoga, breath, and meditation practices, which so dramatically heal me over and over again, with that population.
But despite this ever-present goal, the fear of failing, of not getting in, of getting in and then changing my mind, of choosing the wrong program, of not being able to get a job, or of accruing an unmanageable amount debt seem to cloud my enthusiasm. And don't even get me started on the GRE, or I'm going to go into the other room and seek refuse in child's pose. Deep breaths.
So for now, I hide in crispy coconut eggplant with homemade avocado mango salsa. I can handle that. And somehow the smell of freshly grated parmesan and earthy almond meal sizzling amongst a warm bed of coconut oil seems to ease all my worries. I've made this recipe a dozen times, and that smell get me every time. This dish is like eggplant parm's healthy tropical sister. Much lighter than the classic, with no carbs if you're into that sort of thing, and plenty of protein thanks to the almond meal. And the salsa is fresh and tastes like Hawaii meets Italy. It makes the perfect appetizer or light dinner.
Crispy Coconut Eggplant with Avocado Mango Salsa
Adapted from A Tasty Love Story
Serves 4-6 as an appetizer or 2 as a main
1 large eggplant
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup coconut oil
For the salsa:
1 roma tomato
1 ripe mango
1 large avocado
1/4 teaspoon salt
1.5 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
small handful of basil
Remove the skin of the eggplant with a vegetable peeler. Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, cut the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices. Lay the eggplant over paper towels and cover both sides with a think layer of salt. Let sit for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, make the salsa. Dice shallots, tomato (seeds removed), and mango and combine in a bowl. Add salt, lemon juice, and olive oil, and mix. Dice avocado, and gently (as not to make guacamole), fold into the salsa.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Run eggplant slices over water to remove salt and pat dry with a towel. Set aside. Combine almond meal, parmesan, and garlic in a deep dish. In a separate dish whisk egg with a large pinch of salt. Coat each eggplant slice with egg, allowing excess to run off, followed by the almond meal mixture. Depending on the size of your eggplant, if/when you run out of egg or almond meal mixture just replace with more. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil into hot skillet, just enough to thinly coat the bottom of your skillet, and cook eggplant slices 2-3 minutes per side, or until lightly browned and crispy. When finished cooking, allow eggplants to rest over paper towels to absorb excess oil.
To serve, place a large spoonful of salsa atop one eggplant slice, followed by another eggplant slice and more salsa. Top with thinly sliced basil leaves.
- You can salt and dry your eggplant slices and store in the fridge between sheets of paper towels for 3-5 days, if you're into planning ahead, or only making a few at a time.
- These reheat well best in the oven (or toaster oven). Don't reheat in the microwave.
- The salsa stays fresh, and the avocado green for 3-5 days thanks to the lemon juice. If you have extra it's great with chips or on quesadillas.