One of my all time favorite Italian dishes is Eggplant Parmigiana. Layers of eggplant, sauce and cheese all baked until golden and bubbly. Whats not to love?!
This weeks Meatless Monday happens to be one of my very favorite Italian classics, Eggplant Parmigiana!!! Whats not to love, perfectly fried eggplant, creamy fresh mozzarella and wonderful tomato sauce! This dish is a very simple layered dish but the trick is really in the eggplant. The eggplant is the star and requires the most time. Once the eggplant is ready its just a matter of layering all the fabulous ingredients and baking away until golden and bubbly hot!!!
Basic Tomato Sauce
2 cans crushed tomatoes
4 large cloves of garlic, smashed
handful of fresh basil leaves, torn (we keep it rustic)
1 T of dried oregano
salt and pepper
2 large eggplants
1 lb fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
a few eggs
Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
fresh flat leaf parsley
grated pecorino romano cheese
Oven at 375 degrees.
You’ll want to start with the sauce so it has some time to simmer away for a little bit. In a large pot add in a few big drizzles of olive oil. Add in the garlic and oregano and sauté until the garlic is just starting to brown. Add in the canned tomato, basil, salt and pepper. Allow it to simmer for at least an hour.
Now for the rockstar eggplant! I like to cut each end off and peel just some of the skin off. Why you ask? Well, I don’t mind the taste so I never peel it all off but sometimes it can be a little tough. My solution to keep the structure of the eggplant slices without having too much tough skin is to peel it as shown in my picture. Once peeled, slice into rounds. Not too thin, they will fall apart.
In one pan lightly beat a few eggs with a couple Tbsp of water. Into another pan add some breadcrumbs and add a handful of grated cheese and some fresh parsley.
Place the sliced eggplant first into the egg and then into seasoned breadcrumbs.
In a large frying pan, over medium high heat, add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom completely. the trick to knowing when the oil is ready, because this is hugely important, is to stick the end of a wooden spoon in the pan to the bottom and if little bubbles form around it then the oil is ready.
Go ahead and fry the eggplant. You are looking only to cook a couple minutes per side and for a beautiful golden coloring. Place onto a cooling rack so the eggplant stays crisp.
Once the eggplant is all fried you are all set to assemble. In a large baking pan add a thin layer of sauce. On top of that a layer of eggplant then several slices of the mozzarella and a little more sauce. Continue until all the eggplant is used. You don’t want to overload on the sauce, you will end up with a soggy eggplant parm. Finish off with a little fresh parsley.
Bake for approx 35-40 minutes, until bubbly and golden. Mine is served over angel hair pasta. Oh, and if by some chance you have leftovers… eggplant parm makes for a great sandwich or panini!