Crispy and cheesy with a mild flavor, today’s eggplant parmesan recipe takes its place as a vegetarian mash-up of the well-known chicken parmesan and lasagna.
As the preconceived image of eggplant has been a bland tasting, soggy, and slimy vegetable, getting people to open their heart for eggplant dishes is quite a challenge.
We ourselves haven’t met any real fans of eggplant. But eggplant parmesan, contrastingly, has changed minds of our friends more than once. For those who have never developed a real love for eggplant, you really need to give this a shot.
How to Prepare Eggplant Parmesan
First things first, make sure that you have the most vibrant-colored eggplants with shiny taut skins on hands. You know what they say, great food comes from great ingredients.
How Thick Do You Cut Eggplant?
We believe 1/4-inch thick slices of eggplant are the perfect cuts for this dish. After you cut off both ends of the eggplant, start slicing it into even slices, and keep it up all the way through.
Do You Peel Eggplant for Eggplant Parmesan?
Like most fruit peels, the peel of eggplant is edible. To peel or not to peel, this depends on the plant size. Large, mature eggplants usually have a really thick and tough outer layer, which is— of course— still edible, but nobody wants to chew such bitter and tough food.
If you choose large eggplants, we suggest you peel them beforehand. Otherwise, smaller eggplants will be doing fine in the frying pan without being peeled off.
Quick Tips for Cooking Eggplant
Alright, done prepping? Then let’s head over to the remaining stages. Check the recipe at the bottom of this article if you’re in a rush.
How to Prevent Eggplants from Absorbing Too Much Oil?
There are several ways to prevent eggplants from absorbing too much oil. Though not all of them are equally successful.
You may have been recommended to rub salt onto eggplant slices to extract moisture, but in this recipe, we didn’t apply that method. We simply heated oil in a non-stick pan and added the eggplant in right after the oil started to simmer. Don’t wait until the eggplant turns soggy from sitting too long in the coating!
If the heat is too hot or not hot enough, the eggplant will start to absorb more oil than it actually needs. Don’t fry the eggplant slices for too long, remove them immediately as they start to turn slightly golden. You’ll have more time to cook them later in the oven. Last but not least, use a paper towel to drain excess oil from the fried eggplant slices.
Can You Make Eggplant Parmesan Ahead of Time?
Yes, but you’ll probably run the risk of the dish getting soggier.
To pre-prep eggplant parmesan, all you need to do is assemble all ingredients in the casserole dish with marinara sauce. Next, cover it tightly with cling film and place under refrigeration.
Before you’re ready to cook it, simply remove the dish from the fridge, bring it to room temperature, and preheat the oven in the meantime. The casserole dish really needs to cool down completely, since glass or ceramic cookware can sometimes crack under sudden heat changes (from a low temperature to high heat).
It’s absolutely a no to freeze the uncooked casserole dish. The thawing (or in other word, melting) process will make all the ingredients completely waterlogged. You won’t get anything more than a soggy dish by doing this.
What to Serve with Eggplant Parmesan?
Eggplant parmesan itself has already make a nutritious prep-ahead breakfast, therefore, we believe a hearty fresh carrot juice is enough for a side drink to create a complete and balanced meal.
And that’s pretty much everything you need for a energizing start of a new day. Join us next time for more filling meals!
Eggplant Parmesan Recipe
- 12 oz eggplant
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup olive oil (*)
- 6 oz onion chopped
- 2 tsp garlic minced
- 1 cup homemade tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp oregano
- 2 tbsp fresh basil chopped
- 2 medium eggs
- 1/3 oz shredded parmesan cheese
- 2 oz baguette bread crumbled (*)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (*)
- 3 oz mozzarella cheese
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
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Make the marinara
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, stir for 5 minutes.
- Continue to add homemade tomato sauce, oregano, water, and ground black pepper to the skillet. Whisk to combine.
Coat the eggplant
- Preheat the oven to 350℉.
- Prepare three large and shallow dishes: The first one with flour, the second one with beaten eggs, and the third one with the breadcrumbs mixed with parmesan cheese.
- Dredge each eggplant slice in the flour mixture, dip it in the egg mixture, then coat it in the breadcrumbs and parmesan mixture. Work with one slice at a time and repeat to the end.
Fry the eggplant
- Add 1/2 cup of olive oil to a non-stick pan, turn on medium heat, wait until the oil is shimmering (not smoking hot). Fry all the coated eggplant until slightly golden on both sides.
- Transfer the fried eggplant to a wire rack lined with a few layers of paper towel to drain all excess oil.
Bake the eggplant
- Divide the marinara sauce into three equal parts.
- Spread one-third of the marinara sauce evenly over the bottom of a casserole dish. Place half of the fried eggplant on it.
- Sprinkle half of the chopped basil and half of the mozzarella cheese onto the first layer of eggplant.
- Repeat step two to make the second layer.
- Spread the remaining marinara sauce evenly over the second layer. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese on it.
- Bake at 350℉ for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and turns golden brown, and the marinara sauce is bubbling.
- Remove the dish from the oven. Serve immediately.
- (*) Only part of these ingredients will end up in the final product and we have calculated nutritional values based on that amount. The whole amount is needed for the coating and cooking process, but what actually ends up being consumed are 5 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 ounce of breadcrumbs, and 3 ounces of all-purpose flour.
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