I don’t think there’s an Italian gardener that doesn’t grow eggplant. Being an Italian myself, I love eggplant and make sure it’s in my garden every year. And thankfully, eggplant loves the South Carolina heat! I have twelve eggplant plants in my garden this year (six of each variety – Black Beauty and Listada de Gandia), and my favorite way to cook eggplant is eggplant parmesan. Unfortunately, the “old-fashioned” way of making it – the way nonna did it – takes a long time. Salting the eggplant, draining it, breading it, then frying each slice in olive oil and garlic before layering and baking it. That way also uses up a ton of olive and garlic! But have no fear, I’ve got an easier way that tastes just as good and cuts the time considerably. (Not to mention, saving you money on all that olive oil!)
- About 3 lb of eggplant
- 1 1/2 cups of Italian breadcrumbs (or, add some dried oregano & parsley to plain breadcrumbs)
- 2 eggs
- 1 bulb garlic, diced
- 2 jars of store-bought sauce or about 48 oz of your own sauce
- 8 oz bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Spray can of olive oil
- Cookie sheet
- 13×9 inch glass baking dish
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cut off the tops and bottoms of the eggplant and peel. Then slice into 1/4 inch rounds.
3. In a shallow bowl, scramble the eggs and add a bit of water. In a larger bowl, put the breadcrumbs. (Add dried oregano and parsley if using plain breadcrumbs.) Coat the eggplant slices on both sides with the egg mixture, then dip them into the breadcrumbs until fully coated.
4. Place the breaded eggplant slices on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed liberally with olive oil.
5. Top each slice of eggplant with a few bits of garlic, then spray the tops of the slices with olive oil.
6. Bake eggplant slices at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes – until tender. Remove the from oven and lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
7. Coat the bottom of a 13×9 inch glass baking dish with a little tomato sauce. Place a layer of eggplant slices (with garlic) on the bottom of the dish with each slice touching each other. Cover well with a layer of tomato sauce, then sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan cheeses. Add two more layers of eggplant, sauce, cheeses. Three layers is perfect!
8. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the sides are bubbling.
A pan this size serves 6-8.
If you would like to make extra batches (like I do) to freeze, layer your eggplant parmesan in an aluminum tin with a lid and put inside a Ziploc freezer bag. Do not bake it before freezing. When you’re ready to eat it, defrost it and pop it in the oven (see step 8 above).
Awesome eggplant parmesan the easy way. Just don’t tell Nonna. 😉