Since I first posted this, it’s become my go-to recipe for eggplant Parmesan (see the update below). It’s lighter (but still no diet dish) than traditional and I do it in stages when we get a couple of cooler hours in a day. It’s inspired from Mark Bitman’s How to Cook Everything and really good because it’s dredged in flour, not heavily breaded. Serves about 4.
Eggplant Parmesan My Way
- 3 medium eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ slices
- 1 cup of flour (for dredging)
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- 1/2 pound mozzarella grated (about 2/3 of a fresh ball)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- About 30 basil leaves (or a mix of oregano and basil)
- 2 cups tomato sauce
Pre-heat your oven to 350°. Heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. While the olive oil is heating, pour the flour, salt and pepper into a shallow bowl. Dredge the eggplant slices in the flour and shake off the excess. Saute the slices in the olive oil until golden brown. You’re going to need to do this in batches, and don’t crowd the pan! Let the cooked slices drain on paper towels while you saute the rest. You’ll need to keep adding olive oil to the pan, and it will seem like a lot; it is, but this is not a low-fat dinner.
When you’ve finished sauteing the eggplant, take a gratin pan, or several small ones, and lightly grease with olive oil. Start with a thin layer of tomato sauce, a layer of eggplant slices, a sprinkling of mozzarella, a sprinkling of Parmesan, and a few basil leaves. Keep repeating until you reach the end of the eggplant. On top of your last layer of eggplant, more tomato sauce, the rest of the mozzarella, a good sprinkle of Parmesan, and your best looking basil leaves (style points). Bake for about 20 minutes until it’s warm all the way through and the cheese is melted. Serve and enjoy!
Frank paid this the ultimate compliment last night, when he said I did for eggplant what Bill (the former chef at Rancho la Puerta) did for salmon. In other words, made him love something he’s not generally fond of. This recipe works well because the eggplant is thinly sliced and not heavily breaded. Since sautéing the eggplant, is what takes time, I often do it ahead of time and just pull it out when I’m ready to bake it. We thought, last night, that some Italian sausage might be a nice addition to this, so maybe next time.
Update: This is my go-to way of making eggplant Parm. I generally do add some Italian sausage, crumbled, into the layers. Frank loves this and now looks forward to having eggplants from our CSA share. I ususally find a cool morning to fry up the eggplant and try to do a big batch, as it freezes and reheats well. If it’s going to be hot out, I’ll just carefully bag the cooked eggplant, and wait for a cooler day to assemble and bake.