So, I’m about to pack up all of my things and move to a new apartment in a new city. I thought I’d just cook up something simple and classic this weekend to cut down on extra work amidst all of the moving chaos. Well, the eggplant parmesan ended up being a little bit more involved than I had bargained for but the end result was so scrumptious that I instantly forgot about all of the effort (and all of the things that I didn’t get done because of it). To be honest, most of the recipe time was passive but I kept myself busy doing other chores during the down time so I think it just felt like more work than it really was.
Normally eggplant parmesan is comprised of breaded and fried eggplant layered with marinara and cheese. I love eggplant and happen to think that frying it completely ruins the delicate flavor. So, I searched for a recipe that baked the breaded slices instead of frying them. I ended up working off of this recipe from Ezra Pound Cake (a FANTASTIC blog full of wonderful recipes laced with clever wit). Of course, I made some tweaks to make the recipe fit my taste and budget.
This is one of those recipes that turned out so good that I ate TWO helpings of it… which completely goes against my budget byting principles (eat only what you need, not what you want).
- 2 lbs medium eggplant ($2.08)
- 1 Tbsp salt ($0.05)
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour ($0.02)
- 3 large eggs ($0.36)
- 2 cups breadcrumbs ($0.72)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder ($0.05)
- 1 tsp parsley flakes ($0.05)
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan ($0.47)
- 3 cups homemade marinara (1/2 batch) ($1.90)
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella ($1.98)
- as needed non-stick spray ($0.15)
- Wash the eggplant and slice into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Place it in a colander, sprinkle with 1 Tbsp of salt, toss to coat and let sit for about 45 minutes. The salt will draw out moisture from the eggplant allowing for more crisp slices once breaded and baked. After 45 minutes, give the colander a good shake to let extra water drip out the bottom (it will look brown).
- Press the eggplant slices between a few sheets of paper towel (or a clean, lint-free cloth) to absorb excess water. Place the slices in a ziplock bag with 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour. Toss the bag so that the slices become coated with the flour.
- Prepare the second two steps in the breading process as follows. Lightly beat three eggs in a bowl until they become a fairly even consistency. In another bowl combine the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic powder and parsley flakes. If you have Italian seasoned bread crumbs, you can skip the parsley flakes and/or the garlic powder. Dip each slice of eggplant into the egg (turning to coat both sides) then into the bread crumb mixture (coating each side again). Place the breaded slices on a plate or baking sheet until all slices have been breaded.
- Position your oven racks on the top third and bottom third of the oven so that they have at least 6 inches between them for air to flow. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Place two baking sheets in the oven (one on each rack) as it preheats so they will be preheated as well (this helps with crisping).
- Once all of your eggplant slices are breaded and the oven/baking sheets are preheated, carefully remove the baking sheets and coat them with non-stick spray. Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the sheets and spray the tops of them with another coat of non-stick spray. Place the sheets back in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Switch the position of the baking sheets half way through (the top rack is often hotter and browns faster than the bottom).
- After the slices have baked, reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees. Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick spray. Place 1 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of the dish. Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer over the marinara. Top with a second cup of marinara and one cup of mozzarella. Arrange the rest of the eggplant slices over top and then cover with a third cup of marinara and a second cup of mozarella. Sauce, eggplant, sauce, cheese, eggplant, sauce, cheese. Got it?
- Bake the casserole for about 30 minutes or until the cheese on top is melted and bubbly. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley if desired.
- Relax a minute after all of that baking, enjoy a heaping portion of Eggplant Parmesan and try not to go back for seconds!
Step By Step Photos
Wash the eggplant and slice into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Toss the slices with salt and let drain in a colander for about 45 minutes.
Blot the eggplant to remove any water that didn’t drip off. The less water, the crispier your eggplant will be.
Toss the eggplant slices in a ziplock bag with 1/3 cup of flour until they are well coated.
Dip the flour coated eggplant slices first in lightly scrambled egg then in the bread crumb mixture (bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic powder and parsley flakes).
Bake the slices for about 30 minutes (or until golden brown) at 425 degrees on preheated baking sheets. Coat the baking sheet (after preheating) and the tops of the eggplant slices with non-stick spray.
Coat a large casserole dish with non-stick spray and layer in one cup of marinara then one layer of eggplant slices.
Cover the first layer of eggplant with another layer of marinara and half of the mozzarella. Layer in more eggplant, then more marinara and finally the second half of the mozarella.
Bake the casserole for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until the cheese is all melted and blistered. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that when I made this I actually forgot to put the parmesan in the breadcrumb mix… so I guess I actually made Eggplant Non-Parmesan. Anyway, despite my brain fart, it was still so good that I had two helpings. So, if you find that you forgot to buy the parmesan or you just want to save a few calories, you can leave it out and still get really yummy results!