Many people don’t know what to make with an eggplant. You can grill them, roast them, bake them, fry them, stuff them. The possibilities are endless. They don’t have a distinct flavour so most eggplant dishes feature other ingredients as the flavour. Eggplant Parmesan is my favourite way enjoy these purple beauties.
I always looked forward to getting eggplant in my CSA share. One year I was picking up my last share of the season. Sarah, who ran the CSA program had extra eggplants and said take as many as you like. So I took 5!
If you’re looking for other ways to cook eggplant, Moussaka is an authentic Greek dish you will love.
You can make chicken or veal parmesan using the same method as Eggplant Parmesan, you just have to pound the meat quite thin before frying it. Sometimes I make 2 pans, one of eggplant and one with meat.
When buying eggplant, choose one that feels heavy and doesn’t have any dark or soft spots. You can refer to them as “aubergine” in front of your friends and they’ll think you’re fancy! That’s what they call them in England. And in France too I think…..
Place an oven rack on a baking sheet. Slice the eggplant about 3/4 inch thick and lay the slices on the rack. Salt them lightly, turn over and salt the other side. Leave them for at least 30 minutes to allow some of the liquid to drain out. If you search on the Internet for “do you need to salt eggplant” you’ll see there’s quite the debate. My opinion is that I’m hoping for a crispy outer texture so having less liquid should help. And this helps to avoid them having a bitter flavour. Pat them dry on both sides before cooking.
They will turn slightly brown but that’s ok.
Heat a large jar of marinara sauce in a saucepan. If you’re using homemade, you need about 2 cups with extra if you plan to serve pasta on the side.
Now set up your assembly line for breading. Flour then egg then breadcrumbs. Season all three dips with salt and pepper, add some cold water to the eggs and add dried oregano and basil as well as some grated Parmesan to the breadcrumbs. I like to use Panko breadcrumbs because they’re the crunchiest.
If you move your slices of eggplant to a paper towel it helps absorb the liquid and leaves the oven rack free to place your fried slices on so they don’t get soggy.
Heat a wide frying pan with about 1/4 inch of oil to medium heat. You can use any light oil that can withstand heat such as canola or vegetable. Olive oil can’t withstand the high temperature but you can add some to the other oil if you like. Test the oil with a tiny drop of water. If it cracks and bubbles it’s ready. If it isn’t hot enough your eggplant will absorb the oil. In batches of 3 or 4, dip each slice in flour, then egg then breadcrumbs and fry until golden brown on each side.
Remove to a rack. Don’t put them on paper towel as they’ll get soggy.
Mr. H says he would like them just like this served over pasta with sauce because they will still be crunchy. Adding sauce and cheese and baking them does seem to be counter productive after frying them crispy, however they do need to cook a bit more.
Preheat the oven to 350. Put a ladle of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish and spread evenly. Put one layer of eggplant slices in the pan and cover each slice with a thin coat of sauce. Grate some Parmesan over slices and top with shredded mozzarella cheese.
Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes until bubbling and browning on top.
Serve with pasta on the side.
Here’s the recipe:
Eggplant Parmesan Serves 4 Ingredients 1 large or 2 small eggplants, sliced and salted 1/3 C flour, seasoned with salt and pepper 1 egg, lightly beaten, seasoned with salt and pepper 1 T cold water 1 C panko breadcrumbs 1 tsp dried basil 1 tsp dried oregano 1 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan 1 - 2 C canola or vegetable oil 1 large jar (650 ml) good quality marinara sauce 1/4 C freshly grated parmesan 1 C shredded mozzarella cheese Method Slice eggplants approximately 3/4 inch thick. Lay on rack over baking sheet. Salt each slice lightly, turn and salt other side. Let sit at least 30 minutes to allow liquid to drain. Remove to paper towel and pat dry. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat marinara sauce on stove top. Heat oil to medium in wide pan. Add flour to wide shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Add egg to second wide shallow dish, add water and mix. Add basil, oregano and parmesan to seasoned breadcrumbs. Working in batches, dredge eggplant slices in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Fry until golden brown on each side. Remove to rack. Ladle about 1/2 C marinara sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish. Place 1 layer of eggplant slices in the pan. You may have to overlap slightly. Top each slice with a thin layer of sauce and grate some parmesan on top. Repeat with second layer using the remaining slices, staggering so they are not stacked directly on top of each other and using same amount of sauce and parmesan. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered on the middle rack for 30-35 minutes until bubbling and golden brown. Serve with cooked pasta if desired.