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[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Most eggplant recipes, especially those in Italian cookbooks, call for salting the vegetable beforehand. This helps soften the bitter bite—definitely a good thing—but it comes at a cost: the process can take up to an hour, which basically means that I never do it. Fortunately, there is something of a workaround, and all you have to do is not buy those big football sized ones, and look for Japanese eggplants. Not only are they cute and slender, but they don't require any cleansing ritual to make them edible.

Plus, Japanese eggplants have no problem adapting to an Italian state of mind, as this recipe proves. At its base, this is just a simple spaghetti and tomato sauce recipe—a satisfying classic for sure, but not exactly the most exciting dinner of the week. But if you add a handful of crispy slices of pan-fried eggplants on top, along with a shower of parmesan cheese, and you have a meal with a variety of textures and some real heft.

The slices are cooked in a pan full of oil, but within seconds you'll wonder where all the oil went. Eggplant just loves to soak up oil, which initially leaves them greasy and slimy. Don't despair! Just give them time, and the slices will expel the oil, and they will be all the better after the cleanse.

About the author: Nick Kindelsperger is the editor of Serious Eats: Chicago. He loves tacos and spicy food. You can follow him as @nickdk on Twitter.

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