Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant is one of those vegetables that I have supposedly disliked for a long time, though to be honest, I don’t think I’d ever really tried it.  In college one of my friends ordered eggplant Parmesan at dinner and I tried a bite, and it was good.  I filed that away, but didn’t really have it again until this year.  I’ve been going out to a lot of work-related lunches at a restaurant with an eggplant Parmesan panini on the menu.  I ordered it once, and now I get it every single time.  It’s phenomenal!  I don’t know where my mental dislike of eggplant came from, but I’m glad it’s over now.  I decided to try a classic eggplant parmesan recipe to truly appreciate it.  Of course it’s delicious – anything breaded and covered with sauce and cheese is bound to be awesome!

This meal definitely takes some time to prepare, so it’s not really suitable for a weeknight unless you want to eat late.  It’s really fun to make though.  I automatically like any recipe where you work to get excess liquid out of vegetables (like tzatziki sauce or shredded zucchini).  We loved this so much, it’s right up there with our beloved chicken Parmesan and we actually can’t decide which we like better.  My only change was to cut the original recipe in half (halved version below), but between the three of us there were no leftovers!  I did notice that I was a bit short on the breading and had a few leftover slices of eggplant, so I have altered the recipe below to correct this problem.  I know I’ll definitely be making this again and again, and I can’t wait to make it into a panini next.

Eggplant Parmesan
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For the eggplant:
1 lb. globe eggplant, cut crosswise into ¼-inch thick rounds
1½ tsp. kosher salt
6 oz. high-quality white bread, torn into chunks
1½ oz. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, about ¾ cup
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. pepper, divided
¾ cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
3 tbsp. vegetable oil

For the tomato sauce:
1½ (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
Salt and ground black pepper

4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup)
½ oz. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about ¼ cup)
Fresh basil leaves, torn, for garnish

To prepare the eggplant, toss the eggplant slices with the kosher salt in a large bowl until combined.  Transfer the salted eggplant to a colander and set the colander over the now empty bowl.  Let stand until the eggplant releases at least 1 tablespoon liquid, 30-45 minutes.  Spread the eggplant slices on a triple thickness of paper towels (or layers of clean kitchen towels); cover with another triple thickness of paper towels.  Press firmly on each slice to remove as much liquid as possible.  Wipe off any excess salt.

While the eggplant is draining, place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 425˚ F.  Pulse the bread in a food processor to fine crumbs (about 15 1-second pulses).  You should have about 3 cups.  Transfer the crumbs to a pie plate and mix in the cheese, salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper; set aside.  Wipe out the bowl of the food processor.

Combine the flour and ¾ teaspoon pepper in a large zipper lock plastic bag; shake to combine.  Beat the eggs in a second pie plate.  Place about half of the eggplant slices in the bag with the flour; seal and shake to coat.  Remove the slices, shaking off the excess flour.  Dip in the eggs, letting the excess run off.  Coat evenly with the bread crumb mixture.  Set the breaded slices on a wire rack.  Repeat with the remaining eggplant until all the slices are breaded.

Remove the preheated baking sheet from the oven.  Add the vegetable oil to the sheet and tilt to coat evenly.  Place the breaded eggplant slices on the baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake until the eggplant is well browned and crisp, about 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 10 minutes and flipping the slices after 20 minutes.  Do not turn off the oven after the slices are baked.

While the eggplant is baking, prepare the tomato sauce.  Process about half of the diced tomatoes in the food processor until almost smooth, about 5 seconds.  Heat the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and the garlic is light golden, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the processed tomatoes and the remaining diced tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened at reduced, about 15 minutes.  Stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble the dish, spread ½ cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish.  Layer in half of the eggplant slices, overlapping the slices to fit.  Spread with another ½ cup of the sauce.  Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella.  Layer in the remaining eggplant and dot with the remaining sauce, leaving the majority of the eggplant exposed so it will remain crisp. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and the remaining mozzarella.  Bake until bubbling and the cheese is browned, 13-15 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes, scatter the basil over the top, and serve.

Source: adapted from The New Best Recipe from the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated

28 Responses

  1. I also despised eggplant until very recently..always tasted kinda ‘mushy’ to me..but this looks really tasty! Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Absolut4ely love Eggplant. And this is one of those disches that proves why, and you found it out as well 🙂

  3. I love eggplant and all things Italian, so I know this dish would be a kitchen staple if I made it…problem is, I’d be cooking for one, as Husband turns up his nose at eggplant. Looks great.

  4. Wow first off I can’t imagine not growing up with eggplant parmigiana! You have a lot of catching up to do. Second I have to tell you it looks beautiful you really got it right !! I know it was delicious!

  5. Being Italian, I grew up eating a lot of lasagnas and eggplant parmesan dishes–this sounds like it was worth all the time! 🙂

  6. My husband loves this dish. May have to surprise him with it at home one day! Looks great!

  7. I love eggplant parmesan! I can’t wait to try this recipe; I’m sure it’s amazing being from CI’s 🙂

  8. […] Eggplant Parmesan « Annie’s Eats. […]

  9. I’ve made this recipe, and I definitely agree that it isn’t good for a weeknight! But it was fantastic.

  10. I have made eggplant meatballs before…I highly recommend them!

  11. I feel the same way about eggplant. I have tried – I really have – to incorporate it into my diet. But I just don’t like it! However, coat it breadcrumbs and drown it in tomato sauce and melted cheese …well…hello lover!

  12. I’m still not a fan of egg plants but I recently tried a dish with eggplants in it and loved it! So I want to start trying eggplants more. This recipe looks like a great one to start with. Thanks!

  13. Annie – wanted to share how you’ve enabled me to help a cause that I am completely passionate about. When I saw your snowflakes with royal icing last year, I decided to try royal icing myself. I left comments asking a few questions of you when I was learning. I tried a few more projects and people began to talk to me about selling the cookies. I had no desire to do that and no confidence in my cookies. But lately, I was searching and praying for a way to help a particular non-profit that provides mosquito nets to the Western African country from which we’re adopting. I decided to try and sell my cookies and give all the money to this particular non-profit. I got my first order December 7th. Since then, I’ve raised far, far more money that I could have given and more than I hoped to raise in such a short time. I really want to thank you for inspiring me to try something new and enabling me to give to a cause that is so very, very dear to me.

  14. I like that this eggplant is baked, but with a little oil on the pan. Fried eggplant soaks up soooo much oil, so I try to avoid it! Looks like a great Sunday dinner type of recipe (Sunday is when I do my more involved dinners!).

  15. Wow this reminds of me of the time we made eggplant parmesan. Next time try using a roast red pepper sauce it’s so good!

  16. This looks fantastic! What type of bread makes the best bread crumbs?

  17. I would like the recipe for snowflakes with royal icing, please.

    • Nancy, if you are referring to the sugar cookie snowflakes with royal icing, the icing recipe is located at the bottom of the post, and the sugar cookie recipe is linked within the text of the post.

      If you are referring to the gingerbread snowflakes, the recipe is at the bottom of the post, and you can find the royal icing by using the search bar.

  18. I really think it’s hard to make a good eggplant parmesan. This looks oustanding! I wish you could cook it for me!

  19. I adore eggplant, especially in parmesan form. It’s also delicious with Asian flavors, such as sesame and ginger.


  20. Made it. Loved it. Even my husband loved it and he was sure he was an eggplant hater. Thanks!

  21. Annie, I made this and it was awesome! I always love ordering eggplant parmesan in restaurants, but have never been able to replicate the taste on my own. . . until now, of course! Thanks for a such a great recipe! 🙂

  22. I tried eggplant for the first time because of your post 🙂 I ordered it at dinner on our way to to Labor & Delivery and have eaten it 1-2x a week since then – the breading method makes perfectly crispy slices for eggplant parm subs!

  23. well, you have converted both my eggplant-disliking husband and myself to eggplant-parm lovers — thank you!! will make this again and again as eggplant comes into season this summer 🙂

  24. Made this for dinner tonight! I am a new vegetarian, which my boyfriend isn’t thrilled about, but he loved this! He said that eggplant tastes like a “mushy-sort of chicken!” It was mentioned that this isn’t great for weeknights but I did a no-no and used pre-made tomato basil sauce and a mix of Italian bread crumbs and panko instead of making my own and it came together quite quickly!

  25. I didn’t care for eggplant when I was younger because I couldn’t stand the mushiness. I just made and finished eating your Eggplant Parmesan with my son Andrew and it is the best I have ever had! Now I will want to have it more than once a year!

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