At some point this past summer, I made the decision to try eggplant. I don’t even remember why. I’ve been trying a ton of new foods and finding that I actually like them so it seemed like a totally reasonable thing to do. We go to our local Farmer’s Market most Saturday mornings and I’ve been eyeing the eggplants. I’ve only ever seen pictures of them, which honestly is a little embarrassing to say. I had no idea how to pick out a good one or what to even do with it once I bought it.
My family likes chicken parmesan and I’d often heard of eggplant parmesan so I figured, it’s worth a try, right? I enlisted the help of many friends for recipes and suggested. I even used my favorite app, Big Oven to hunt one down. It turns out that eggplant parmesan is normally fried! Who knew? (Okay, most of you probably did in fact know this. I however, had no idea!) We strive to stay away from processed oils so frying wasn’t really an option. Instead, we decided to make things up as we went and ended up with a delicious BAKED eggplant smothered in sautéed veggies, cheese and sauce. Princess Daddy, who once proclaimed eggplant to be the one food he didn’t like, announced publicly that I was the best wife on the planet. And all three girls devoured it before I even finished my broccoli. So, I highly encourage you to check it out.
1 large eggplant
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper
1 pinch garlic powder
1 cup freshly grated parmesan
2 cups marinara sauce —Chef’s note: We used 1 1/2 cups and instead sautéed chopped mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic and bell peppers and added to the sauce with about 1/8 cup of water.
1 cup shredded mozzarella
2 cups flour (for coating the eggplant during baking)
2-3 cups of bread crumbs —Chef’s note: We home make our breadcrumbs by blending up 3-4 slices of whole grain toast and adding Italian seasoning
Slice the eggplant -unpeeled- in half inch slices and sprinkle them lightly with salt. Layer the slices in a shallow dish. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit, unrefrigerated for at least an hour. Using a towel or napkin, press and pour out the liquid. Ideally this step is done at least twice.
Preheat the oven to 450F. Press the eggplant slices in flour (we use whole wheat flour) on both sides and fit on a cookie sheet (with edges) or in a shallow casserole dish. Beat the 2 eggs in a shallow bowl and season with pepper, salt and garlic. Prepare a bowl with Italian bread crumbs. One by one, dip the slices, coating both sides, in the egg mixture first and breadcrumb mixture after that, before placing it back on the cookie sheet or dish. Cook until the slices start to color, about 15 minutes, turning half way.
In the mean time, warm up the marinara sauce in a small sauce pan over low heat, and grate the parmesan. Stir the left over egg and breadcrumbs in with the shredded parmesan to make a smooth mixture. Spread this mixture on the eggplant slices and place the cookie sheet or dish back in the oven for a couple of minutes, until the cheese is bubbly. Remove from the oven. Top with the warm marinara sauce and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese. Serve.
We like to serve with steamed broccoli and a side salad. One large eggplant typically makes enough to feed our family of 5 twice (with one slice each for the adults and 1/2 a slice each for the kids). This meal easily reheats from the freezer as well making it an excellent option for a cook ahead freezer meal!