I’ve learned that eggplant is officially “in season” July through October. Well, in season or not, I managed to find a couple of nice ones at my grocery store the other week.
I made Eggplant Parmesan, which my husband reminded me was one of the very first meals I ever cooked for him back when we were dating. So I guess you could say it is one of the dishes I used to win him over ;). Ha.
I originally got this recipe from a television program where a camera crew would show up at a regular person’s house and film them making their “signature dish.” It was on Food Network and I don’t remember the name of the show! But I’ve tweaked this recipe so much over the past 15 years or so, I feel safe calling it my own at this point, anyway.
After washing and slicing the eggplant (I used about 1.75 lb.s here), dredge it in an egg/milk mixture and some bread crumbs. The easiest way I have found to do this is to put the egg mixture in one pie plate and the breadcrumbs in another right beside it. Dip each slice of eggplant in one dish and then the next, and then lay it on the baking sheet. Sometimes I use preseasoned Italian breadcrumbs such as those pictured here, other times I mix plain whole wheat crumbs with Italian seasoning. Either one works.
Arrange the coated eggplant slices on a baking sheet (here, I put parchment paper over mine — also, I needed two baking sheets to accommodate all the eggplant!) and drizzle each slice with a little olive oil. This step makes the crumb coating crisp up nicely in the oven, so I don’t recommend skipping it! Just dip a spoon in some oil and sprinkle it on.
Bake the eggplant in a 400 F degree oven for 15 minutes, then use tongs to flip all the slices, drizzle with olive oil and bake for another 15 minutes. They should be browned and crispy on both sides. In the meantime, heat 6 oz. tomato paste, 6 oz. water, and 8 oz. tomato sauce in a saucepan. Add whatever Italian seasonings you prefer (I’ll list my favorites at the bottom of this post) and simmer for about 30 minutes, while the eggplant is cooking.
When the eggplant is done, arrange the browned slices in a baking dish. Spoon the sauce over each slice and cover with Mozzarella and a bit of Parmesan cheese. Here, I used a mixture of thinly sliced and shredded Mozzarella, because that is what I had in the fridge!
Bake the completed casserole at 400 F for 10 – 12 minutes, just until the cheese starts to brown. Don’t leave it in too long; you don’t want your eggplant to get soggy!
I served this with a salad, tossed with a homemade Italian salad dressing that has become a favorite of mine.
1 1/2 – 2 pounds eggplant, washed and sliced 1/2″ thick
1 egg, beaten with 2 Tbsp. milk
Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
6 oz. tomato paste
6 oz. water
8 oz. tomato sauce
1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. oregano
1 minced garlic clove
dash of onion powder
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup (or more, depending on your taste) shredded or sliced Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup (or more) shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Dip eggplant slices into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs, coating both sides well. Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment. Arrange each slice of coated eggplant in one layer on baking sheet and drizzle each piece with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes. Check that slices are golden brown. Turn and bake for another 15 minutes.
In the meantime, dilute tomato paste and sauce with water in a medium saucepan. Add seasonings, cover and simmer on low for about 30 minutes, while eggplant is browning.
When the eggplant is browned, arrange the slices in a 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Spread sauce over each slice. Top with Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Bake assembled casserole for 10 – 12 minutes, just until the cheese starts to brown. Serve hot!