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Pan Fried Eggplant with Arugula Caprese Salad {gluten-free option}

Who loves eggplant? This combination of Pan Fried Eggplant with Arugula Caprese Salad is perfect for summer! Also, the salad can be put together in just a few minutes while the eggplant is frying and you are good to go.

fried eggplant with arugula caprese salad

How to Pan Fry Eggplant

Pan frying eggplant is a simple process that leads to some deliciously crispy eggplant! I prefer to peel my eggplant, however either way you like your eggplant will work for this dish.

To start, prep the eggplant by peeling (if desired) and slicing into 1/4″ pieces. Then, before you set up to bread the eggplant, begin to heat your oil in a large pan. I like to use my shorter pasta pot for this so that the oil doesn’t end up all over my stove. Heat about 1/2- 1″ of oil over medium heat in your pan.

To bread the eggplant, coat in cornstarch (for extra crispiness), then the beaten eggs, and finally Italian bread crumbs (substitute gluten-free Italian seasoned bread crumbs if needed). Next, fry the eggplant in the oil for about 2-3 minutes on each side. The oil will be hot enough if it starts to bubble immediately when you add a slice of eggplant. If it does not wait a couple more minutes before adding more slices.

Don’t add too many slices at a time because it will drop the temperature of the oil and they won’t cook quickly. Also, this will allow more oil to be absorbed making the eggplant taste oily. Let the eggplant cool on a plate with paper towels to absorb any extra oil. Then, serve alongside the salad.

Make the Arugula Caprese Salad

While waiting in between batches of eggplant, combine your mozzarella pearls, tomatoes, basil, vinegar and olive oil. Then, let sit and marinate. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Serve the tomato mixture on top of a bed of arugula alongside the fried eggplant and enjoy!

Pan Fried Eggplant with Arugula Caprese Salad

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I pick out a ripe eggplant?

Look for an eggplant with smooth and shiny skin. If you gently press a finger into it it should leave a slight imprint. Also, smaller eggplants tend to be sweeter than larger eggplants.

How should I store the leftovers?

Store the eggplant in the refrigerator. When ready to use, reheat the eggplant in the oven, toaster oven or air fryer for a few minutes to get it crispy again.

For the salad, store the tomato and mozzarella mixture separately from the arugula so it doesn’t wilt. Combine when ready to eat.

Can this recipe be made gluten free?

Yes! Make sure to use gluten-free Italian bread crumbs to bread the eggplant.

I hope you enjoy our Pan Fried Eggplant with Arugula Caprese Salad! If you are looking for more vegetarian recipes here are some of our favorites: Forbidden Rice and Beans, Basil Parmesan Risotto, Warm Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad, Strawberry Smoothie Bowl, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chickpea Blondies, Roasted Vegetable Quesadillas, Three Bean Salsa and Almond Mandarin Quinoa Salad. For a full list of vegetarian recipes, search vegetarian in the search bar!

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fried eggplant with arugula caprese salad

Fried Eggplant with Arugula Caprese Salad

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Crispy fried eggplant with a light argula caprese salad.


  • 2 small eggplants or 1 large
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 8 oz mozzarella pearls (or chopped mozzarella)
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Arugula, for serving
  • vegetable oil, for frying


  1. Prep the eggplant for frying. Peel, if desired, and chop into 1/4" thick pieces.
  2. Start to heat the oil in a large pan with higher sides over medium heat. You will need about 1/2-1" of oil in the pan.
  3. Coat the eggplant in cornstarch, then eggs, and then breadcrumbs. Set aside to fry.
  4. Fry the eggplant a few pieces at a time for 2-3 minutes on each side. The oil should bubble right away when the eggplant is added. If it does not, let it heat up for a few more minutes.
  5. While the eggplant is frying, combine the mozzarella, tomatoes, oil, vinegar and basil. Toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
  6. Serve the eggplant with the tomato mixture over a bed of arugula. Enjoy!


Use a pot with high sides to fry the eggplant to avoid splatter.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 473Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 92mgSodium: 589mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 6gSugar: 10gProtein: 16g

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This recipe was originally published on June 11, 2019 and was updated on May 31, 2021.

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