Eggplant recipes were on my list of foods I dislike until I took my first bite of Eggplant Parmesan. Let me just say, it was heavenly! I think the eggplant has been misunderstood for a long time. I had never even tried eggplant and for some reason I just knew that I would not like it. Eggplant Parmesan changed my mind! It is phenomenal! The breaded slices of eggplant are baked and then layered with lots of cheese and a delicious marinara sauce and it is really awesome! I savored every last bite of this wonderful meal!
Velvet Palate requested I prepare my Eggplant Parmesan for a wine pairing and I’ll share that food and wine pairing with you next week. That being said, I have to say that this recipe is not my typical “Make Life Special” recipe. It definitely takes some time to prepare this dish, so it’s better to plan on this for a week-end meal. However, every step of the recipe is very easy and it’s also fun to make.
Eggplant Parmesan can be served as an elegant first course or as the main entree. If you serve it as an entree, I would suggest adding a pasta ( topped with the sauce that you put on the Eggplant Parmesan ), a green tossed salad, hot toasty garlic bread and a great glass of wine.
- FOR THE EGGPLANT:
- 1 lb globe eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
- 2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
- 6 slices of high-quality white bread ( I used Oatmeal Bread) processed in a food processor to equal 3 cups of breadcrumbs
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 3 tablespoons oil
- FOR THE MARINARA SAUCE
- 1 1/2 cans ( 14.5 oz size ) diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, diced
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into thin strips
- salt and pepper
- FOR THE TOPPING:
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Fresh basil, thinly sliced ( for garnish)
- Toss the eggplant slices with the kosher salt in a colander and set it over a small bowl to drain for 45 minutes. It should release about 1 tablespoon of liquid. Don't skip this step -- it helps the Eggplant Parmesan stay crispy and not soggy.
- Spread the eggplant slices between several strips of paper towels and press firmly to remove as much water as possible.
- Place a rimmed baking sheet in a 425 degree oven to heat until ready to bake the breaded eggplant slices.
- Place the 3 cups of homemade breadcrumbs in a bowl and add the 1 cup of Parmesan cheese. Stir to blend.
- Beat the eggs in a separate pie plate.
- Add the flour and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to a large ziplock bag.
- Place several of the eggplant slices into the ziplock bag and shake. Remove and dip into the beaten egg. Coat evenly in the breadcrumb mixture and place the breaded eggplant slices on a wire rack. Repeat until you have coated all of the eggplant slices.
- Remove the preheated baking sheet from the oven an add the oil to the pan. Tilt to coat evenly. Place the breaded eggplant slices on the baking sheet in a single layer and bake about 15 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake another 10 to 15 minutes - but don't over brown.
- While the eggplant is baking, prepare the tomato sauce. Process half of the diced tomatoes ( with the liquid) in a food processor until smooth. Heat the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in a medium saucepan, stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the processed tomatoes and the rest of the unprocessed tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- To assemble the dish, spray a 2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray and spread 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the dish.
- Layer in half of the eggplant slices, overlapping the slices to fit.
- Spread with 1/2 cup of the sauce.
- Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella cheese.
- Layer in the remaining eggplant and top with the sauce. Try to put the sauce around the eggplant and leave the top uncovered as much as possible so the eggplant will remain nice and crispy.
- Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese and grate some more Parmesan cheese on top.
- Bake for about 13 minutes or until bubbly.
- Cool 10 minutes. Scatter the fresh basil slices on top to garnish.
Salting and sweating the eggplant slices…..
Drain the eggplant slices on paper towels…..
Making the breadcrumbs…
Adding the cheese to the breadcrumbs….
Shaking the eggplant slices in the flour….
Dip in the beaten egg….
Coat with the breadcrumb and cheese mixture…
Lay breaded eggplant slices on wire rack until ready to bake…..
Bake the eggplant slices as directed. While they are baking, prepare the marinara sauce…..
Remove the baked eggplant slices from the oven….
Assemble the dish…….
Bake until bubbly… about 13 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes and serve.
Here is the Eggplant Parmesan hot out of the oven…..Yummy!
Remember….”Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends! Enjoy!”