Vegetarian – Serves 4-5 people
Who doesn’t love a hearty piece of breaded eggplant smothered in marinara sauce and cheese?! Eggplant Parmesan is one of my favorite cozy dishes to make for a dinner party because it’s delicious, filling, and serves many people. However, there are many components to it and it can get time consuming. If you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to this, you can definitely make the components at different times or make some shortcuts (e.g. sauce in a jar). Here is the recipe I have developed and it combines various recipes from these lovely chefs:
- 1 large eggplant
- 3 cups of marinara sauce (see recipe below)
- 2 tsp of kosher salt
- 4 eggs beaten
- 3 cups of Italian breadcrumbs
- Cooking spray
- 2 cups of grapeseed oil
- 1 cup of parmesan cheese
- 1 log of mozzarella cheese (the fresh/sliced mozzarella is the best)
- 5 pieces of fresh basil for garnish
- Optional sprig of green onion for garnish
- 1 large can of whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 medium onion peeled and chopped into two whole pieces
- 3 large cloves of garlic peeled but left whole
- 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp of Italian seasoning (or oregano is fine by itself)
- 1 tsp (I like more) of red pepper flake
- 1-2 tsp of salt and pepper to taste
- In a medium pot with a wide bottom, combine the tomatoes (with their juices), onion, garlic, olive oil, Italian seasoning, red pepper, salt, and pepper together.
- Bring the sauce to a rolling simmer over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slower, gentler simmer for about 45 minutes on low. Stir occasionally and after 15 minutes have passed use a spoon (wooden is ideal but other types work) to crush the tomatoes against the sides fo the pot. (While it’s simmering you can start preparing the eggplant).
- Remove the pot from the heat and take out the onion. Smash the garlic cloves in the pan with a fork or spoon and continue to crush the tomatoes.
- Blend the sauce for a few seconds gently pulsing it till you achieve its desired consistency. I like it smooth so 1-2 minutes works and I added in a bit more extra virgin olive oil while pulsing it.
- Season to your liking but it should be well-seasoned at this point. This can be added to the eggplant parmesan before it bakes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Chop the eggplant so each slice is about 1/4 inch thick. Think small-medium sized circles.
- Sprinkle salt on both sides of the eggplant and drain in a colander for 30 minutes (this step isn’t imperative but it gives the eggplant a nice creamy texture, if you don’t have time, don’t sweat it). When it’s done draining, you can rinse the salt off the eggplant and pat it dry on paper towels.
- When the eggplant is dry, dip both sides of each slice in the egg (shake off excessive egg), then the breadcrumbs and put it on a baking sheet with cooking spray and bake for 10 minutes, flip it, then bake for an additional 10 minutes. I like to bake AND fry the eggplant because it makes it super crispy without it being too oily.
- Once the eggplant has been baked, remove it from the oven, and turn the temperature down to 350 degrees.
- In a large frying pan, heat the grapeseed oil (you’ll have to add more throughout the frying process) on medium heat and fry each eggplant slice on both sides. You’ll know that the oil is ready by dropping a piece of bread crumb and seeing it sizzle. About 4-5 pieces of eggplant will fit on the frying pan and you can flip it over in about 2 minutes when one side is golden brown.
- Then fry the other side for 2 minutes (the speed increases the longer the heat has been on so it’s good to eyeball).
- Once the eggplant has been fried, remove from the pan and put it on a paper towel to dry.
- Now it’s time to put your eggplant parmesan together!
- Put about 3/4 cup of your marinara sauce on the bottom of the baking dish (a 9 by 13 inch pan is ideal). Then put the eggplant on top of the sauce (it’s okay for it to overlap a bit).
- Then spread 1 cup of the sauce over the eggplant. Then put the mozzarella cheese slices on top of the eggplant pieces making sure there is enough for the next layer.
- Sprinkle the top with 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese.
- For the last layer, add the sliced eggplant, then put the remaining marinara sauce on top (you’ll probably have a bit extra so use it for pasta later that week), the remaining mozzarella slices, and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese. Sprinkle half of the chopped basil on top.
- Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Then increase the temperature to 375 degrees, remove the foil, and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese is crispy on top. Let it rest for 10 minutes and drizzle with the leftover basil slices and green onion for garnish.
- Voilà, your Eggplant Parmesan is ready!