Crispy, pan-fried eggplant slices layered with tomato sauce and cheesy-goodness. This is one of those recipes that makes you say “just one last bite” over and over again.
Happy Tuesday Everyone!
Today I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes, eggplant parmesan. Not only is it delicious, it’s perfect for an at-home Valentine’s Day dinner (which is in one week, in case you forgot).
When Dylan and I first started dating, I was living in a studio apartment in Tempe, Arizona and I invited him over for eggplant parmesan. Had I known that he was a fabulous cook…like truly his food is always amazing, I would have definitely picked something else. Maybe something I had made before perhaps. Needless to say, I served a mediocre pile of eggplant mush that Dylan so graciously consumed with a smile. Later I learned that eggplant parmesan is literally one of his specialties…LOL.
My hubby has since taught me his eggplant parm ways and I’ll never go back ❤
Eggplant parmesan, specifically this recipe, is one of my ALL-TIME favorite dishes. If you’re already an eggplant parm lover then you’re going to die for this, AND if you’re not an eggplant parm lover, then this just may be the recipe to change your mind. Usually when I order eggplant parmesan at a restaurant it’s kind of mushy and just … blah (as was my aforementioned dinner for Dylan). This is the opposite of that. Because each slice of eggplant is individually breaded and pan fried, then carefully layered with sauce and cheese, it keeps its’ texture and each bite is just about perfect 🙂
This recipe takes a little more time to whip up, but I promise you it’s SO worth it.
What You’ll Need to Make This Recipe:
- 1 Medium Eggplant, thinly sliced into rounds
- Course salt
- 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 6 oz mozzarella, thinly sliced and torn up into pieces
- 1 24 oz tomato sauce (canned or homemade)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
The key with eggplant parm is THIN THIN THIN eggplant slices. This is what helps prevent the dreaded “mush” that typically makes weird-texture-people run from eggplant parm. The thinner the slices, the better they fry up and retain that satisfying crispy texture. Mmmmm.
Just about anytime you cook with eggplant you’re going to want to “sweat” it first. The thought behind this preparation is that salting the eggplant and allowing it to sit for a period of time draws out the bitterness… you can actually see the greenish colored liquid that comes to the surface after about 30 minutes or so. To do this, generously salt both sides of the sliced eggplant and allow it to sit. It’s that simple.
You can use a baking rack to do this, but I’ve found that placing it right into a colander in the kitchen sink is most convenient (that way you don’t have to transfer the eggplant once it’s time to rinse). After 30 minutes, thoroughly rinse your slices and set them out on paper towels to dry.
Note: Don’t use your kitchen towel or bar mops to dry, whatever detergent you used while washing them, the eggplant will absorb… hello chemical taste. Paper towel it is!
There’s enough moisture left in the eggplant that I omit using any kind of binder (like egg) before breading. You really just need a light crust on these bad boys. Dip both sides in a shallow bowl full of italian-style bread crumbs until fully coated!
This is the most labor intensive step of this recipe but SO worth it. In a large skillet heat up enough olive to cover the entire bottom of the pan (about a 1/4 inch high) just above medium heat–I use the number 6 on my electric stove top. Have I mentioned how much I hate cooking on electric? A lot. Anyhoo, you want your oil nice and hot before you start adding in the eggplant. Work in batches of 4-5 slices (depending on your pan size). Fry until golden brown and then flip once and brown the second side. Repeat until you’ve fried all of your eggplant.
Note: By the last batch this is what the oil looks like–it’s kind of gross…but normal 😉
This is the fun part. If you have littles, this is the perfect job for them!
On a baking sheet put a dollop of sauce (you can use jar or homemade, check out my quick & simple tomato sauce recipe here) then an eggplant slice, more sauce, a thin slice of mozzarella, then another eggplant slice. I like to make my stacks four eggplant slices high and then top them with sauce, a small piece of mozzarella and a sprinkle of freshly grated parm.
Bake at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes–just long enough to heat all the way through and get the cheese nice and melty. If the cheese hasn’t browned you can turn your broiler on at the end to get that nice golden brown color!
WATCH HOW I MADE THIS RECIPE
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