Stand out seasoning, Italian inspired flavors, gooey melted cheese, and a tangy red sauce. Despite all of the steps in this recipe it’s actually a pretty easy to create if you have the time.
My husband loves eggplant but I was never too fond of it, until I created this recipe. The secret to my success is in sweating the eggplant before breading it as well as the bold seasoning that gives the dish a lot of flavor.
You can pair this dish with a salad, pasta, garlic bread or roasted vegetables, however it does great as a stand alone, one dish meal. If you need the dish to extend for more guests, then you’ll absolutely want to serve some additional sides. Luckily the flavors work well with a wide variety of side dishes.
- 1 medium to large eggplant
- oil for frying
- 1 cup flour
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup panko
- 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 3 tbsp parsley flakes
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- spaghetti sauce
- mozzarella cheese, shredded
- parmesan cheese
Prep the Eggplant
Slice the eggplant into approximately 1/4 inch slices and dispose of the ends, or use them in another recipe. It’s up to you if you want to peel your eggplant or not. We keep the peel on for the extra nutrients, but some people prefer it peeled.
Now sweat the eggplant. Salt both sides of each eggplant slice generously and place in a colander to drain. I put the colander over another bowl to catch the liquid. Don’t worry about adding a lot of salt in this step, you’ll wash it off when you’re done. The salt is drawing out moisture in the eggplant which will keep the eggplant from getting soggy while it cooks. It improves the texture and it will reduce the bitter flavor the eggplant might have. Leave the eggplant in the colander to sweat for approximately 30 minutes. While you wait prep the rest of your eggplant parmesan steps. Start by heating the oil in a large skillet on medium to medium high heat, heat up the spaghetti sauce, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and get your breading bowls ready.
Above is a picture of the eggplant sweating. You can see moisture droplets forming. After 30 min rinse each slice under water to remove excess salt then pat dry with a paper towel. Don’t skip the drying step because you don’t want extra moisture making your final dish soggy.
Fry the Eggplant
After the eggplant slices are dried start the breading process. First dredge them in flour. Next dip the slices in egg. Finally bread each slice with the breadcrumb mixture. This breading mixture is bread crumbs, panko, Italian seasoning, parsley, salt and pepper mixed together. Make sure you cover each slice completely with the breading.
Next fry each eggplant slice for approximately 2 to 3 minutes on each side. I only do a few at a time so I don’t crowd the skillet.
When they are done frying place them back in the colander set in a bowl to allow the excess oil drain off. I also place them on a cooling rack. Either method will work and keep the eggplant crisp. If you place them on a paper towel to cool or soak up the grease it will leave your eggplant soggy.
Bake Eggplant Parmesan
It’s time to layer the eggplant parmesan in an 8×8 inch baking dish. First put a thin layer of sauce on the bottom, then layer the eggplant overlapping it, top it with more sauce, shredded cheese and parmesan.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and starting to brown. Sauce will probably be bubbling up the sides. Take it out of the oven and let it set for about 5 min before cutting. In a square baking dish I cut this into 9 slices, but you can make servings bigger or smaller to suit your family.
- Slice eggplant into approximately 1/4 inch slices, discarding the ends. You can leave the peel on or discard it, it's your choice.
- Sweat the eggplant slices in a colander by generously salting both sides of each eggplant slice and letting the liquid it releases drain into a bowl. This takes approximately 30 minutes. Rinse excess liquid and salt off of each slice and pat dry.
- In a bowl place approximately 1/2 cup to 1 cup of flour, set aside. In another bowl whisk three eggs, set aside. In a third bowl mix the bread crumbs, panko, Italian Seasoning, parsley, salt and pepper. These three bowls will be used to bread the eggplant slices.
- Heat vegetable oil to a medium high temperature. It is ready when oil shimmers.
- Dredge each slice of eggplant in flour, then dip in the egg wash and finally coat with the breading mixture.
- Fry breaded eggplant in hot oil for approximately 2 to 5 minutes on first side. I watch for the edges of the breading to start turning a golden brown before flipping it to the other side and frying it for roughly as long as you did the first side.
- Remove fried eggplant from oil and set in a colander or on a baking cooling rack to cool and drip off excess oil. Do not place on a paper towel. The eggplant will lose it's crispness and become soggy.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Once eggplant has cooled it's time to assemble the eggplant parmesan bake. Spread a small amount of sauce on the bottom of an 8x8 inch casserole dish. Layer the eggplant on top, overlapping it, then top with more sauce and 4 to 8 oz of shredded mozzarella cheese. Finally sprinkle approximately 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly browned.
- Serve and enjoy!
Serve it up and enjoy. We serve ours with a side of spaghetti for the kids, some garlic roll ups, and sauteed mushrooms. This would also be delicious with a garden salad and a light vinaigrette dressing. This dish will be a hit with the entire family, even the kids! It’s a great recipe even for someone who doesn’t care for eggplant.
How do you like to enjoy eggplant? Share your favorite recipe ideas in the comments below.