this is one of my absolute favorite things to make for dinner. it’s rich & delicious, but doesn’t leave you feeling heavy since it’s vegetable-based. it’s easy, but kind of time-consuming, so i don’t make it that often. it takes a little over an hour to put on the table, which is a lot of time to devote to dinner when you’ve also got school to stay up on, a dog to walk & a desire to get those endorphins flowing on the daily. because i love this dish so much, i made it a few months ago when i first started this blog so i could share it immediately. in what ended up being a huge fail, i forgot to bake the eggplant pieces separately before baking them in tomato sauce & cheese. i didn’t realize my mistake until my dad bit into a piece & mentioned that the eggplant was way undercooked. needless to say, i decided not to share that disaster on the blog. this time, however, was a success, so i’ll gladly clue you in on the details :)
last night, when i’d had enough of reading about why i shouldn’t have sex with my future clients (never would have figured that one out on my own) & successfully convinced nathan to take a study break & visit me, i knew i’d be making eggplant parmesan for dinner. the timing was too perfect–it takes nathan a little over an hour to get here, which is about the same amount of time it takes to make this gem of a dish. throw together a little caprese salad while the oven works its magic, a good bottle of shiraz (thanks, dad!) & some leftover breadsticks & you’ve got yourself one hell of a meal. not an eggplant lover? seriously, not a problem. i’ve turned many an eggplant foe to an eggplant fan with this dish. my theory is that once you get rid of the bitter skin by peeling the vegetable, you lose that bitter taste that people tend to dislike when it comes to eggplant.
a bonus picture of the artist at work on her one square foot of counter space (& that’s a generous estimate).
-4 cups tomato sauce (see below for my super easy recipe that makes exactly this amount, adapted from here , or use your favorite store-bought kind)
-1 large eggplant, trimmed, peeled & thinly sliced
-3 eggs, beaten
-1 1/4 cups breadcrumbs
-2 cups shredded mozzarella
-1 cup shredded parmesan
-dried or fresh basil, or italian spices to garnish
-2 28 oz. cans of whole tomatoes & their juice
-10 tbsp butter
-2 large yellow onions, halved — chop 1/2 an onion, but leave the other halves in tact
-8 garlic cloves, minced
-salt & pepper to taste
1) preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) (if you’re using store-bought sauce, skip to the next step) in a large pot, combine all tomato sauce ingredients. bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally, for 35 minutes. when finished, use a whisk to gently mash tomatoes & discard onion halves (if you’re in a rush, you don’t have to wait the full 35 minutes–i’ve made batches in well under 25 by turning up the heat so that the liquid reduces a bit faster).
3) meanwhile, place eggs in one small bowl & breadcrumbs in another.
4) dip eggplant slices in egg, then dip in breadcrumbs, coating each slice evenly in bread crumbs. arrange slices on baking sheets & bake in the oven for 5 minutes on each side.
5) in a 9 x 13 baking dish, arrange half the tomato sauce. layer half the eggplant slices on top of the sauce. layer half of each cheese on top of that. repeat each layer once with the remaining sauce, eggplant & cheese, ending with cheese. sprinkle with dried basil or italian seasoning & bake for 35 minutes or until cheese layer starts browning (if you’re using fresh basil, sprinkle the dish with it after removing it from the oven).
*makes 8 servings; sauce makes 4 cups exactly (so you won’t have any leftover if you’re using it for this recipe).