I first had eggplant in college. Being a poor college student, when I went out with friends and they chose Olive Garden, I would often order the Eggplant Parmesan because at the time it was the cheapest main course on their menu. I wasn’t sure what I thought about eggplant at first and I never actually bought one and tried other things with them until a few years ago. I didn’t know what I was missing!
Eggplant is a really versatile little fruit, which most people call a vegetable, and is a very good source of fiber. You can use it in soups, in casseroles, in salads, pretty much any way you can think of. Eggplant Parmesan isn’t exactly an every day food, but it’s a really great treat from time to time!
Eggplant Parmesan does take a bit to put together, but it’s worth it and it isn’t difficult at all. You basically set up an assembly line and go! Plus it isn’t an exact science. You can use as much of the things that are in the dish as you want. You can make a big dish, or a small dish. It all depends on how many you’re feeding. Alexis loves helping with these sorts of things, so it’s a good dish to get the kids in the kitchen too and that’s always a good thing!
What You’ll Need:
1-2 large eggplants, sliced
2 cups of Panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of finely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of dried basil
3 eggs, beaten
Extra virgin olive oil
Marinara sauce (Note: I like Organic Newman’s Own Marinara sauce, but you could make your own if you wanted.)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Slice the eggplant into rounds and set aside:
Next put the bread crumbs, salt, herbs and spices in a pie dish and stir to mix:
Then add eggs to a separate pie dish and beat until mixed. Once the eggs are beaten set up your assemble line:
Once the assembly line is set up you’re ready to bread!
First place a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of a large skillet and turn heat to medium. Let the oil heat up as you’re breading your eggplant.
Next take a slice of eggplant and dip both sides in to your beaten eggs:
Now it’s time to dip the the egg covered eggplant into the breading mixture:
Make sure both sides of the eggplant are covered with the breading mixture like this:
Now it’s time to start frying!
Continue breading your eggplant slices as the other slices that are ready are fried and repeat the process of breading until you run out of eggplant.
Place the eggplant slices in the skillet:
And then brown both sides:
Once browned on both sides remove from the skillet and drain on a few paper towels:
Continue frying until all of the eggplant is browned.
Now you’re ready to assemble the Eggplant Parmesan! I usually start doing this as the eggplants have drained, while I’m still frying the other pieces to speed the process along.
Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray or brush it with olive oil. Choose a baking dish based off of the amount of eggplant you’ve prepared. I used a medium sized dish for this batch.
Place a layer of eggplant on the bottom of the dish:
It’s OK to cut the eggplant in half to fill the corners if you need to.
Next a a little marinara:
Again it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just make sure most of the eggplant is covered.
Now you add a layer of Parmesan Cheese:
Continue this process until you get to the top of your dish:
The top layer will be topped a bit differently. Add Parmesan AND mozzarella cheese:
Place Eggplant Parmesan on a baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake in a preheated oven for 35-40 minutes. Remove foil for the last 20 minutes of baking.
Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes before serving.
This is just perfect with a side salad and a slice of garlic bread.
Notes: I have wanted to try this process with Portabella mushrooms, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Remember you can make this as big or as small as you like.