The whole family will love this classic eggplant parmesan! Slices of tender eggplant coated in homemade breadcrumbs, and then layered with melted cheeses & rich marinara! Whether you’d like to bake or fry the eggplant, this recipe has a method for both.
When I was growing up I would crave chicken parmesan but it was a rare occasion that I would get to have this meal and usually only when we would go out to eat at an Italian restaurant. I adore classic Italian dishes, but it was not until my adult years that I would began to appreciate the alternative to chicken parmesan. For the longest time I would avoid eggplant recipes because no one else would try it or eat it with me.
Until one day, I made Ratatouille, which is a whole different story and recipe, I will share that one at a later date. But, my point is, that I realized I really enjoyed eggplant/ aubergine. Now it was up to me to find a way to make it that the whole family would enjoy it, not just me. One day we were out at Costco, and I picked up a premade eggplant parmesan, brought it home and it was a hit. This got me thinking that we should totally make this at home and it would be sooooooo much better! I was right, the recipe I found was amazing. We followed it and made some tweaks to our liking and now I am sharing it with you.
- 2 large eggplants
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour or Whole wheat flour [which we used] (see tips)
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup olive oil (for fried eggplant method)
HOMEMADE BREADCRUMBS should you want to make your own
- 6 bread slices (about 1 1/2 cups – see tips)
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese shredded
- 2 teaspoons Italian herb blend
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon (each) salt & black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups marinara [ We used Tomato/Basil Sauce, purchased from Lidl]
- 1 lb mozzarella cheese [ Fresh ball or pre-sliced]
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese shredded
- 1-2 Tablespoons fresh basil chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano chopped
- Slice eggplant: remove stem from eggplant then slice into 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices.
- Sweat eggplant: arrange slices on a pan and sprinkle with a pinch of coarse salt on both sides. Let sit and “sweat” excess moisture for 10 minutes. Pat firmly with paper towels to dry eggplant thoroughly (wipe off salt as well).
- Breadcrumbs: toast slices of bread. Then chop in food processor until consistency is crumbs. Mix breadcrumbs in a bowl with garlic powder, salt & pepper, Italian herbs, and shredded parmesan cheese. (Tip: If you are not making your own breadcrumbs, use 1 1/2 cups of store-bought breadcrumbs instead.)
- Bread eggplant: arrange three bowls containing whisked eggs, flour, and breadcrumb mixture. First, coat eggplant in flour on both sides, then dip into eggs, and then dip into breadcrumbs – pack onto eggplant and then gently shake off excess crumbs. Wipe hands with paper towel then repeat. (Tip: if baking eggplant instead of frying, brush a sheet pan with 1-2 Tablespoons of oil and arrange breaded eggplant onto pan as you coat them.)
- Pan frying method: in a skillet pan, add 1-2 Tablespoons of oil at a time, and cook breaded eggplant for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Lay on paper towels to soak up excess oil. Repeat until all eggplant has been fried. [ We prefer the pan frying to get that crispy texture added on the outside of the eggplant. You can use the Baking method if you prefer: instead of pan frying you can also bake the eggplant to use less oil. Preheat oven to 350F and arrange breaded slices onto sheet pan that is brushed with 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes until golden.
- Assemble: in a large casserole dish, spread a generous layer of marinara on the bottom. Then layer: eggplant slices, mozzarella, a spoonful of marinara, and shredded parmesan. Repeat an additional layer on top.
- Bake: Then bake at 400F uncovered for 30 minutes until cheese is browned and melted. Top with chopped fresh basil & oregano, and serve!
How to Freeze & Store Leftovers
Keep leftovers fresh: if you’re not freezing leftovers, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3-5 days. Reheat in the oven at 350F until warm or microwave.
How to Freeze (three ways)
Freeze fried/baked eggplant: if you have extra breaded & cooked eggplant leftover, you can store flat in freezer-friendly bags (layered with parchment paper) and freeze up to 1-2 months to make at another time.
Freeze before baking: Assemble eggplant parmesan as the recipe instructs, but don’t bake it. Cover with plastic wrap, then cover with foil and freeze for up to 1 month. Then thaw at room temperature and bake when ready to eat!
Freeze leftovers: Assemble eggplant parmesan as the recipe instructs and bake it. Store leftovers in airtight containers and freeze for up to 1 month – thaw at room temperature and reheat in the oven at 400F until warm.
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