Eggplant Parmesan is a classic Italian comfort food. A layered casserole much like lasagna but with slices of eggplant taking the place of lasagna noodles.
I love good Italian, but sometimes I get in a rut always eating the same old same old. It’s great but a little boring.
Having read many Eggplant Parmesan recipes, I came to several conclusions. First, it was a little tricky and second a fair amount of work. You see, eggplant is full of water. This leads to the standard recommendation of salting for several hours to pull water out. Next, it is frequently breaded then fried. And then lastly it is assembled with a marinara sauce and perhaps some cheeses and more breading. It is wearing me out just thinking about it.
So when Jamie Oliver’s Eggplant Parmesan recipe appeared in my inbox (thank you NY Times), it was “interesting”. No salt, no pan frying. He went with oven baking slices of eggplant at high temperature that should dry them some in addition to both cooking and browning. Very nice… it got rid of most of my issues.
While I used Jamie’s technique on the eggplant, I knew I would prefer my marinara sauce, and while he was trying to keep the fat low, many commenters felt more cheese was needed. I went for the taste.
A nice change of pace.
Preheat oven to 450, not convention.
Cut two medium size eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds) into 1/2 inch slices.
Brush both sides of the slices with olive oil place on baking sheets.
Bake for about 15 minutes until bottom is lightly brown. Flip slices and do another 10-15 minute until both sides browned some. Remove from tray and decrease oven temperature to 375 degrees.
While eggplant is browning, make the marinara sauce. Add one tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Chop one medium onion and add to oil when hot. Cook until starting to clear then add three cloves of crushed or minced garlic and cook one more minute. Add 14 oz can diced tomatoes, 6 oz can tomato paste plus 6 oz water. Add one teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon each of oregano, basil, and pepper. Bring to boil then decrease to simmer until needed.
Time to assemble the casserole. I used a small six by ten casserole. Spray well with PAM. Add 3/4 cup sauce on the bottom.
Cover with 1/3 of the eggplant, sprinkle with 1/3 cup of each Parmesan and shredded mozzarella. Cover this with 3/4 cup sauce. Repeat eggplant, cheese, sauce twice more.
Cover with all the remaining sauce, add one more layer of 1/3 cup each of Parmesan and shredded mozzarella. Finally, top with 1/2 cup of Italian seasoned Panko bread crumbs.
Bake until golden brown. About 40-45 minutes.
June 8, 2016