Eggplant Parmesan Recipe
Confession: I’ve never had it. In my former life as a meatatarian, it never occurred to me to eat a dish without meat on purpose. Anytime I was seated in a restaurant with this dish on the menu, I was checking for shrimp scampi, lasagna filled w/ Italian sausage or chicken Parmesan. I don’t know anyone who makes this either. I’ve never avoided eggplant, truthfully, I’ve just not been paying attention to it.
In my quest to try new dishes, I came across eggplant Parmesan and I must confess I was a little terrified. I’m a good cook because I cook from memory, aka I know what things should taste like. Cooking a dish I’ve never had is scary because I don’t have a point of reference. I assuaged my fears with the reality that my marinara sauce from scratch, fresh mozzarella and basil make a delicious combo. With all these things on point, I can’t go wrong.
Found a couple of recipes and decided that I’d go with one that had fried eggplant. The baked ones cautioned against letting the eggplant be too mushy. Mushy food makes me want to die, and of course everything is better fried. This part of the recipe was pretty labor intensive. I’ll admit that while I liked the recipe after it was all cooked and gooey together, I preferred the eggplant fried & crispy. The sauce made it less crispy. My Boyfriend tried it, albeit reluctantly and liked it, but said he was dreaming about hamburger while he was eating it, lol! He’s still a meatatarian, and I usually have to force veggies on him.
The verdict: a good dish, with a lot of work. For me, I felt like it would make an excellent side dish to roasted chicken. Or a great dish if I can ever bring myself to adopt meatless Monday (I don’t b/c I fear my Boyfriend would just die, lol). Otherwise, I can’t see myself putting in all that work, unless I was making it for a party. I’m looking forward to trying it in someone’s restaurant. Then again, I set the bar pretty high for them…
- 2 1/4 lbs (about 2 large) eggplants
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove minced garlic (about 1 teaspoon)
- 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), tomatoes diced, reserve juices
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
- 1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 3/4 cup flour
- 4 eggs, beaten (more if needed)
- 1/4 cup olive oil (plus more to oil the sheet pans)
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
- Slice the eggplants into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick rounds. Lay the eggplant slices out on a rack over a rimmed sheet pan (or on several layers of paper towels). Sprinkle both sides of the eggplant rounds lightly with salt. Let the eggplant rounds sit and release moisture for 2 hours.
- 2 Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan on medium heat. Add the minced garlic and gently cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their juices. Increase heat to bring to a simmer, lower heat to maintain a very low simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the minced basil and remove from heat.
- 3 Combine 1 1/2 cups of breadcrumbs with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and place in a shallow bowl or rimmed dish. Set up your station so that you have flour in one shallow bowl, beaten eggs in another bowl, and the breadcrumb cheese mixture in another, in that order.
- 4 Preheat the oven to 425°F. Spread a tablespoon of olive oil each over the bottom of two rimmed baking sheet pans. Pat dry the eggplant slices with paper towels. Working one at a time dredge the eggplant slices first in the flour, then dip in the beaten eggs, and then dredge in the breadcrumb parmesan cheese mixture.
- Place on oiled sheet pan. Drizzle a little oil over the top of each breaded eggplant round.
- 5 Place breaded prepared eggplant slices in the oven. Cook for 18 to 20 minutes, turning the slices over at the half-way point, until they are nicely browned. Remove from oven, and let cool to touch.
- 6 Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce over the bottom of a 9x13-inch casserole dish. Place a third of the eggplant rounds in a single layer covering the sauce on the bottom of the pan.
- Layer half of the sliced mozzarella on top of the eggplant rounds. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.
- eggplant-parmesan-method-12 eggplant-parmesan-method-13
- Place another third of the eggplant rounds over the cheese. Spread 1 cup of the sauce over the eggplant rounds. Layer the rest of the sliced mozzarella over the sauce. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup of grated Parm.
- Add the remaining eggplant in a single layer on top of the cheese. Top with the remaining sauce and the remaining Parmesan.
- 7 Bake uncovered at 350°F for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before cutting into to serve.