Eggplant Parmigiana Made Easy

Eggplant Parmigiana 2There are three things I love about this eggplant parmigiana recipe: delicious, easy, and healthy (OK, healthier).  There is no dipping the eggplant into egg whites to bread it, and there is no frying.   Any type of breading like that is always a messy process for me.  It takes forever!  This recipe is much faster and tastes so good.

Eggplant ParmigianaI don’t have the luxury of fresh eggplants now that summer is in the rear-view mirror, but I was craving comfort food and for me, eggplant parmigiana is just so comforting.  I found these two eggplants in the local grocery store that didn’t look too bad.  Eggplants are best when they are fresh.  I guess this applies to all vegetables, but eggplants can get really nasty and bitter if they are old so when you purchase eggplants from the grocery store, make sure they are firm.  If you press your finger into the eggplant, it should pop back out without making an indention.  The eggplant skin should not be dull but have a sheen to it.  A beautiful vegetable!  Especially when they are grown in the garden.

Eggplant Parmigiana fresh eggplantAnd of course you need fresh herbs.  They are expensive if you purchase them in the grocery store so next year when you plant you spring flowers, throw in a few herb plants. I have basil, mint, oregano, rosemary, and parsley growing on my deck in between inpatients and coleus plants.  I have a rather shady area, but I still get enough to enhance my recipes.  If you have a sunny spot, there is no excuse for not planting fresh herbs! It’s so easy, and you’ll definitely get your moneys worth.

Eggplant Parmigiana herbsChop them finely.

Eggplant parmigiana herbs choppedGrate fresh Parmesan cheese.  If you use the already grated type, it will not be as good.  Just saying…

Eggplant parmesan Grated parmesan cheese Add the herbs and cheese to Panko bread crumbs and blend.  It should look something like this:

Eggplant parm bread mixtureSlice the eggplants 1/2″ thick and bake on a 350 degree oven for about an hour or until the eggplant is lightly brown and has a soft appearance.

Eggplant Parmigiana grillingBefore we get started with the layering, we need to talk about sauce. I use fresh sauce in the summer and in early fall when I still have access to fresh tomatoes.  I have my recipe for fresh pasta sauce posted on this blog.  The only difference that I do for this recipe is I  put it in the blender a few seconds to make it really smooth.  If it’s winter and you don’t have access to fresh sauce, use your favorite pasta sauce.  Or, another option is use Muir Glen Organic canned tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce, add chopped onion, basil, salt, and honey.  Simmer until it thickens. Blend it a few seconds in the blender to make it smooth if you like that texture.  If not, leave it chunky.  Just remember fresh is always best.  Just use my recipe as a guide and change it up to meet your needs.

After it cooks, follow these steps:

Eggplant parmigiana 1st layer
Notice how the center looks “jelly-like”

Eggplant parmigiana 2ndEggplant parmigiana 3rd stepEggplant parmigiana 4th stepRepeat these layers until the eggplant is stacked three high. It should look like this before putting it in the oven:

eggplant parmigiana before the oven And after it comes out of  the oven, it looks something like this:

Eggplant Parmigiana 3 I had eggplant parmigiana at two different restaurants in New York. They were both different, but really good, especially from the little owl.  However, my easy version is just as tasty.  If you’d like to see my New York pictures of the little owl, follow this link: http://www.eatwritepacklight.com/west-village-favorite-restaurant/   or other pictures of our New York trip, go here: http://www.eatwritepacklight.com/traveling-within-the-united-states/new-york/

You can’t go wrong with something like this.  It’s comfort food for me.

eggplant parmigiana close

Eggplant Parmigiana
Author: 
Recipe type: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large or 2 small eggplants (enough to get 18 slices ¼" thick)
  • ¾ cups of plain breadcrumbs (I use Panko)
  • 16 oz pasta sauce (I make my own and it's posted on my blog)
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh oregano
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley
  • ¾ fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 12 oz Mozzarella Cheese (the whole, fresh, type, like Buffalo)
Instructions
  1. Cut eggplants in ½" slices. Brush with olive oil and grill on a stove-top grill or put them in the oven but use a rack of pan so the oil will drip off. Grill or bake at 350 until tender. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour. The eggplant will start to look tannish-brown and soft in the middle.
  2. While eggplant is cooking, cut oregano, Italian parsley and basil into fine pieces. In a medium bowl, mix bread crumbs, parsley, oregano, basil, and Parmesan cheese. Mix these ingredients well and set aside.
  3. Slice the mozzarella into thin discs. Set aside.
  4. Put a thin layer of pasta sauce in a large casserole.
  5. When the eggplants are tender, begin assembling the parmigiana. The eggplants will be stacked in layers with the other ingredients.
  6. Start with one eggplant slice. Place it in the casserole. Add a spoon full of sauce on top. Sprinkle on a layer of the bread crumb mixture. Add a layer of the mozzarella. Then, add another slice of eggplant. Continue this process until each eggplant slice is stacked three eggplants high.
  7. Press the eggplant stacks like you would a sandwich.
  8. Sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs on top of each stack.
  9. Cook for about 25-30 minutes.
  10. Remove and add a sprig of fresh basil.
  11. Prep and cook times does not including making your own sauce. I always make my sauce ahead of time.

 

 

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