The Armando’s eggplant experience


In the neighborhood where I grew up, my go-to spot for culinary excellence was Armando’s Pizza. If I was in a hurry, I’d buy a slice and be on my way. But if I had the time, I’d have an eggplant sub.

The sub took just a few minutes longer to prepare than a slice of pizza, but it required extra time because I had to eat slowly and enjoy it properly.

I couldn’t rush through those breaded cutlets of meaty eggplant, which were drenched in marinara, plastered with provolone, wrapped in a fresh Italian roll and lit up with a carefully chosen assortment of toppings known as “everything.”

The eggplant sub was the most satisfying meal I could afford, and it was more delicious than many foods I couldn’t afford. Years later, when I returned home to visit with my pockets full of available credit at great rates, I threw back similarly priced eggplant subs like potato chips when I could have spent a lot more on food in the big city of Boston.

An eggplant Parmesan sub seems like such a simple thing, until you try making one from scratch and realize the level of preparation behind it. Making the marinara sauce alone can take all day. The cutlets can easily take just as long, especially if you go big.


Baked eggplant cutlets

There are four stages to this recipe: cutting, salting, breading and baking. It will make enough cutlets for 12 large subs, because it really makes no sense to go to all of this trouble to make a few cutlets. It makes much more sense to freeze any leftovers. But if you want to start small, divide the recipe by three and use just one eggplant.

  • 3 large eggplants (about 3 pounds worth)
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon thyme or Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Spike seasoning or
  • seasoned salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, powdered  or shredded

Cut off the ends of the eggplants so they can stand on end, then cut each eggplant into slices no thicker than a half inch. Lay the slices on a rack — I use an oven rack — and sprinkle them with salt as evenly as you can. After about two hours, gently dab them with a paper towel or kitchen towel and turn them. Sprinkle the other sides with the rest of the salt and continue baking. After another two hours, dab them with a towel.

In a bowl that’s large enough for an eggplant cutlet, mix the flour and dry seasonings. In a similar-sized bowl, beat the eggs and milk. In a third bowl, mix the panko flakes with the parsley and cheese. Dredge each piece of eggplant through the seasoned flour, then dip it into the egg wash. Hold it up for a moment so the egg drips off, then dredge it in the panko flakes, pressing them into the eggy cutlet with your fingers.

Place each cutlet on a cookie sheet. When the sheet is full with no two cutlets touching, drizzle them with olive oil.

Place the tray in an oven preheated to 400 degrees and bake until you smell nicely browned toast, about 20 minutes. Flip the cutlets and cook another 10 or so minutes, staying alert for the smell of burning. Ideally, some of the cutlets will be a little puffy when you take them out.

To freeze cutlets for later, allow them to cool to room temperature on the cookie sheet. Scrape them loose with a spatula if necessary and put the tray in the freezer. When frozen, transfer the cutlets to freezer bags.


Eggplant sub

  • 1 hoagie, sub roll or section of
  • baguette
  • 1 to 3 cutlets, depending on
  • the size
  • 1/2 cup warm marinara sauce
  • 3 slices provolone (or the
  • equivalent amount of shredded
  • mozzarella)
  • “Everything,” which at Armando’s
  • would mean chopped tomatoes,
  • onions, lettuce, pickles and
  • pickled cherry peppers


Slice open the roll. Cover one side with cutlets and smother them in marinara. Lay provolone slices over both sides and bake at 400 degrees until the cheese melts. Remove from the oven, add “everything” and serve.


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