Eggplant Parmesan

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.

Ingredients

EGGPLANT

  • 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

TOPPINGS

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Slice eggplant: remove stem from eggplant then slice into 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.)
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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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