Crisp eggplant, breaded and fried. Smothered in cheese and tomato sauce. While it bakes, a delicious aroma fills your kitchen, seeps out an open window and entices neighbors to ask “What’s for dinner?” Now that’s Eggplant Parmesan and it starts with fresh eggplant.
Last week I traveled to Maryland to prepare my mother for three weeks of sheltering in place. I was able to purchase and organize plenty of ingredients for her to enjoy a variety of dishes. She insists on cooking even though she has physical limitations that restrict her ability to stand for long. I included a combination of fresh and frozen vegetables as well as meat and fish. While I was there, I couldn’t resist making Eggplant Parmesan. While so many items were disappearing from the grocery store shelves, there was an abundance of eggplant. Families certainly are missing out if they don’t give it a try.
I prepared this recipe for mom and she loved it. It turns out my neighbor in Connecticut loves it too, so I baked a second batch.
I prefer to stack my eggplant rather than spreading it out like lasagna. That way I can allocate portions and it’s easier to store any leftovers; leftover are highly unlikely. I made the red sauce fresh, but you could use sauce from a jar.
8 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
Salt for the eggplant
2 fresh eggs, beaten
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 fifteen ounce can tomato sauce
1 fifteen ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon italian seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced
- Red Sauce
- Add tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, italian seasoning and garlic to as sauce pan. Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Eggplant Prep
- Slice eggplant into thin rounds. Try to get them as thin as you can. I like to stack the eggplant when I’m assembling it in the casserole for final baking. The pieces that are larger in diameter will form the base with the smaller pieces towards the top.
- Once sliced, place the eggplant in a baking dish, lightly salting each one as you go and then cover the eggplant with water. Let sit for 30 minutes.
- Slice the mozzarella cheese into thin slices and then cut each slice in half. Grate the parmesan cheese. During assembly, reserve a piece of cheese for each eggplant stack to be added in the final baking step.
- Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
- Coat the bottom of a casserole dish with red sauce.
- Heat saute pan coated with two tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Add more olive oil as you fry additional slices of eggplant.
- Create an assembly line. Take a slice of eggplant, dip in egg batter and then dredge in breadcrumbs. Fry in saute pan, browning on each side. I cooked five at a time. Once done, place in the bottom of the casserole. Top each piece with a slice or two of the mozzarella cheese. Continue the process until all the eggplant is cooked and stacked.
- Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the eggplant. Sprinkle on the parmesan cheese. Cover with foil. Baked for 30 minutes.
- Remove foil. Add one last slice of mozzarella to the top of each eggplant stack and sprinkle on the last bit of parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
- Let rest for a few minutes before serving.