Eggplant Parmesan is a delicious and hearty vegetarian meal with a delicious red sauce and tender on the inside/crispy on the outside breaded eggplant. Serve it over spaghetti or other pasta for a tasty Italian meal.
Traditional Eggplant Parmesan
Traditional eggplant calls for deep-fried breaded eggplant, which imparts a crispy exterior and a tender interior. The recipe serves four to six.
- 2 eggplants, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- Sea salt for sprinkling, plus 1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes, undrained
- 8 basil leaves, chopped
- 2 eggplants, unpeeled, sliced cross-wise into half-inch slices
- 4 cups breadcrumbs
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- 2 cups flour
- 5 eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Oil for frying
- 8 ounces mozzarella, grated
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Put the slices of eggplant in a large colander and sprinkle them liberally with salt. Place the colander over the sink or over a bowl and allow the salt to pull the water from the eggplant for about 1 hour. Discard the water and wipe off the excess salt with a paper towel.
- While the eggplant drains, in a large pot, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat until it shimmers.
- Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and a half teaspoon of the sea salt. Bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the liquid reduces, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a shallow dish, whisk together the breadcrumbs, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of the sea salt, the Italian seasoning, and the black pepper.
- Put the flour in a second shallow dish.
- In another shallow dish, whisk together the eggs and the milk.
- In a large pot or sauté pan, heat 1/2 to 1 inch of oil on medium-high heat until it reaches 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Dip the eggplant slices in the flour and pat away any excess. Next, dip them in the egg mixture, and then dip them in the breadcrumbs, coating them completely. Tap away any excess breading.
- Working in batches, fry the eggplant in the hot oil until it is golden brown in all sides, about 3 minutes.
- Remove the eggplant from the oil and gently blot on paper towels to remove any excess oil.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a small bowl, mix the mozzarella and the Parmesan cheese.
- In a 9x13 inch baking dish, spread about 1/3 of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of the fried eggplant and sprinkle with half of the cheese mixture.
- Spread another 1/3 of the tomato sauce over the cheese. Add another layer of eggplant. Top with the remaining 1/3 of the tomato sauce and then top with the remaining cheese mixture.
- Bake in the preheated oven, uncovered, until the cheese is brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
There are several ways you can vary this recipe to save time or lower calories.
- Use a jarred marinara sauce to save time.
- Save time, fat, and carbs by skipping the breading on the eggplant. Instead, after salting the eggplant for an hour to remove the bitter liquids and wiping away the salt, layer the plain, unbreaded eggplant with the sauce and cheese without breading and frying it. Increase baking time by 15 minutes, covering the casserole with foil for the first 15 minutes and removing it for the remaining 15 minutes.
- Substitute other hard Italian cheeses for the Parmesan, such as Asiago or pecorino Romano cheese.
A Traditional Italian Dinner
This hearty Italian dish makes a tasty meal. It also freezes well, so you can make a large batch and reheat it for meals on the go. If you've never tried eggplant Parmesan, this is a delicious meal to serve your family.