skip the dredging and frying
Eggplant parmigiana is a southern Italian classic. It is typically prepared by dredging the sliced pieces of eggplant in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs and then fried. The fried eggplant is then typically baked in a dish layered with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese. I prefer a version that is healthier, easier to prepare, and the net result tastes lighter and better. In my eggplant parmigiana, I slice the eggplant in half-moons, season and roast them, then layer with tomato sauce, fresh ovolini and grated mozzarella, and sprinkle with grated parmesan and a delicious combo of bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, and olive oil. The product is so flavorful you won’t be running back to the old frying method anytime soon.
- 1 large eggplant, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick (half-moons)
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- preferably homemade marinara (*see notes), or alternatively a (24-ounce) jar of marinara sauce
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 8 oz (1/2 lb) fresh ovolini (or buffalo or bocconcini) mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 8 oz (1/2 lb) shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1-2 oz of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
For the Topping:
- 1 cup of plain bread crumbs
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup olive oil
simple marinara sauce prep:
Coat the bottom of a large saucepan or dutch oven with olive oil. Put in whole cloves of garlic (6-8 cloves) and cook until just browned. Remove garlic cloves and chop them up (alternatively you can toss chopped raw garlic cloves into the olive oil and once they begin to brown add the diced tomatoes). Empty 2 29 oz cans of diced San Marzano tomatoes (accept no alternatives!) and their juices into the garlic oil. Add in the chopped browned garlic, 1 tbsp kosher salt and a few grinds of freshly ground pepper. Stir to combine and bring to a boil and then let it simmer until thickened, stirring intermittently. Add in dried or fresh finely chopped herbs (I typically use 1 tbsp of dried oregano and 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil). Use a potato/veggie masher to mash some of the tomato chunks (I leave some tomato chunks in the sauce for texture- particularly for this eggplant parmigiana dish).
- Pre-heat the oven to 400℉.
- Slice the eggplant into half-moons and then place the eggplant in one layer on three sheet pans and brush both sides with olive oil, using all the oil.
- Sprinkle with the oregano, then sprinkle with 1 tbsp salt and 1 1/2 tsp pepper. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the slices and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until tender and golden. Leave the oven at 400℉.
- In a 10×14 or 9×13 by 2-inch ceramic baking dish, spread a third of the marinara sauce. Arrange a third of the eggplant on top in one layer. Scatter a third of the basil, a third of the sliced fresh mozzarella, a third of the shredded mozzarella, and a sprinkle of the grated parmesan. Repeat twice, starting with the marinara and ending with the Parmesan.
- For the topping, in a small bowl, mix the plain bread crumbs, minced garlic, and chopped parsley, and stir to combine. Add the 1/4 cup olive oil and mix it all together.
- Sprinkle the topping over the layered sauce, eggplant and cheeses.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown. Allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.