Eggplant Parm Slider
Now, here’s a sandwich that checks all the midwinter boxes. It’s eggplant coated in panko, aromatics, and Parmesan, fried golden brown, and layered on a slider bun with a generous amount of marinara sauce — and all the mozzarella you could want. What a comforting bite! The bun is cushy as a cloud; the eggplant is crisp on the outside and so melt-in-your-mouth soft on the inside that it’s almost juicy. And we love how all that garlicky, herby goodness tastes swathed in a blanket of bright, tangy marinara and melty cheese.
A word or two from the test kitchen on that marinara: This recipe is meant to be easy peasy, so go ahead and open up a jar of premade sauce, but use the good stuff. In a simple recipe like this one, all the ingredients need to shine. We chose Rao’s Original Marinara, and it was divine — tangy, sweet, and aromatic. Heat up a bowl of it for dipping.
Sliders always seem to signal a heavy snack, like a happy hour bite with your partner or game day apps on the couch with the whole family. But eggplant Parm sliders are so tasty and special, we wouldn’t hesitate to serve them for dinner. For sides, we’d go with sweet potato fries and a caesar salad. The creamy dressing will balance out the bright marinara.
Our tip: If you’re making these beauties for game day, you can fry up the eggplant a few hours ahead of time. Keep them at room temp, and then assemble the sandwiches and set them under the broiler right before kickoff.
1 large eggplant
½ tsp kosher salt, plus more for eggplant
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large Gelson’s eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp garlic powder
Vegetable oil, for frying
6 slider buns
¾ cup marinara sauce, divided, plus more for dipping
8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced into ¼”-thick rounds, divided
¼ cup loosely packed basil leaves, torn, divided
Trim, peel, and slice the eggplant into 12 round slices, about ½” thick. Generously season both sides of each slice with salt, and place them between paper towels. Press the paper towels against the eggplant and let rest for 45 minutes to absorb excess water.
Prepare a breading station: fill one shallow dish with the flour; a second dish with the eggs; and a third with the panko, Parmesan, dried oregano, garlic powder, and kosher salt, combined.
Brush any excess salt off the eggplant slices. Dredge each slice through the flour, and then the egg, allowing any excess to drain off. Then, coat all sides in a thick layer of panko.
In a large skillet, heat ⅛” vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, fry the eggplant slices in two batches until golden brown, about 2 ½ minutes on each side, changing the oil between batches. Transfer the fried slices to a cooling rack.
On a parchment-lined baking sheet, layer the bottom half of each slider bun with 1 fried eggplant slice, 1 Tbsp marinara sauce, another eggplant slice, 1 Tbsp marinara, and a slice of mozzarella. Broil the open-faced sliders in the oven until the mozzarella begins to brown.
Scatter fresh torn fresh basil leaves over the sliders and add the top of the buns. Serve with warmed marinara sauce, and enjoy!