When I was at the downtown Des Moines farmers market last weekend, I picked up a huge array of tasty veggies—and somehow walked out only having spent $5 on produce! I wound up with two beautiful, big eggplants, and knew exactly what I was going to do with them—EGGPLANT PARMESAN!
I knew I didn't want to mess with frying the eggplant, and had seen across Pinterest that people had had great success simply baking it.
If you don't take the proper steps, eggplant can have a bitter taste. Here's how to combat that: 30-90 minutes prior to when you want to cook this meal (I did it right when I came home from work, and then watched an episode of Portlandia. It worked out.), slice the zucchini and spread it out on a paper towel. Spread a thin layer of salt on each slice, and let it "sweat" out the bitterness. After 30-90 minutes, rinse off the salt and pat eggplant dry.
Oh, right. Here's what you need:
2 medium eggplants, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs (or you honestly could crumble up saltines or other crackers. it'll be fine)
1 tablespoon italian seasoning, homemade or store-bought
2 eggs (or 1 egg + 2 egg whites)
1 jar pasta sauce
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (I used part-skim)
2/3 cup finely-grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup loosely-packed chopped or julienned fresh basil
Preheat oven to 425°F.
In a small bowl, crack your two eggs and scramble. In another bowl, pour a hefty layer of Panko breadcrumbs or the crackers you ran through your food processor. Whisk the breadcrumbs together with the salt and Italian seasoning.
Dip each slice of eggplant first into the egg mixture, then into the crumbs. They should end up covered like the picture above. Place slices on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
While the eggplant is baking, you'll want to chop or julienne your basil. The easiest way to do this is to (after washing and drying the basil leaves) stack the leaves on top of each other and have them laying horizontally on your cutting board. Chop thin slices with your knife perpendicular to the long side of the leaves.
When the eggplant is done, it's time to assemble the dish! Spread one cup of pasta sauce in the bottom of your glass baking dish. Drop eggplant slices in for the next layer. Then, it's mozzarella cheese, and parmesan. On top goes your julienned basil! If you want/will be around your oven at this time, you could always add the basil for the last 3-5 minutes of baking.
If you have a lot of eggplant, you'll keep building layers like this. I used a 9x9 dish and only had one layer of eggplant, and left it at the first layer. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and starts to turn slightly golden around the edges, and the sauce is bubbly.
Serve immediately—but just know that the leftovers are tasty even a few days later (and I hate leftovers!).
Have something you'd like me to try? Let me know in the comments! And don't forget to follow along for even more fun on Instagram!