Eggplant Parm

I eat a whole lot more vegetables than I used to. Back in the day, when i worked in the deli, I had myself programmed that I didn’t like eggplant, so I missed out on the eggplant Milanese, rollatini, and alla parmigianna (aka parm) that we were making in the store.

When thinking up ideas for a cooking class, eggplant parm was a dish I wanted to revisit (or visit), as it is a good subject for a vegetarian meal.

Let’s be perfectly clear, though; this may be a vegetable dish, but it’s not exactly what most people would equate with healthy. It’s as rich and comforting as it gets.

Eggplant parm

I found a gigantic eggplant at Trader Joe. It was almost 3 pounds and costed under $4.

Gigantic eggplant

Eggplant slices

After removing the skin and slicing into 1/4 inch slices, I let the slices sit out with a little salt on a sheet pan. This step is crucial. The cellular structure of eggplant is bursting with water. The salt serves to promote osmosis (that is, diffusion of water) out of the cells. Doing this leads to tender and slightly chewy eggplant slices. If you try skipping this step, I don’t even want to know what happens, but don’t say I didn’t tell you.

After about an hour, I dried all the slices then put them through a standard breading procedure. Flour-egg-bread crumbs. For many, this type of breading is too thick with eggplant, so some people will blend the flour with just a little bread crumbs and start with the egg step. Make it however you want. The breading is what’s going to crisp up and give you texture.

Flour-egg-bread crumb

Breaded eggplant slices

Then they went into a skillet with oil at about 375°F for 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Eggplant frying

Fried eggplant

I let them cool on a rack and cut into one to stuff my face capture the texture.

Texture of eggplant

To make this into eggplant parm, I simply layered the slightly cooled slices with my basic tomato sauce, thin slices of fresh mozzarella, and some freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Fresh mozzarella

Microplane

Layered eggplant parm

Parmesan cheese

I only lightly apply the sauce because I don’t like things drenched in sauce. You want more sauce, add more!

This baked for like 10 to 15 minutes at 350°F.

I served it with fresh tagliatelle which I cooked in a little of my tomato sauce.

Tagliatelle

This was all for me, so I just lifted the baked eggplant parm from the pan onto a plate…

baked eggplant parm

…and served the pasta on the side with some more freshly grated parmesan on top.

Eggplant parm

Eggplant has a slight bitterness that actually works well with cheese. I guess going through this whole exercise turned me into a fan of eggplant parm, because I absolutely loved it.

The beauty of this prep is that it’ll work with lots of stuff. Squash, zucchini, chicken, veal.

You can freeze the fried eggplant slices and defrost a few hours in advance for assembly, or, you can assemble unbaked trays of eggplant parm, freeze them, and bake them (covered) directly from the freezer. It’ll take a little longer to bake, but it beats the hell out of starting with fresh eggplant if you just want eggplant parm.


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6 thoughts on “Eggplant Parm

  • Pirate Jeni

    Oh man that looks good. I haven’t made eggplant parm in ages. Have you ever considered freezing the breaded and fried slices? I wonder how they would fare. The first time I had eggplant I really liked, it was the eggplant I used to have to make at Bagel Bite. Well, I didn’t actually make it.. my job was to slice and salt it… but I was amazed at how well it took up parsley and good olive oil when fried. I’ve been an eggplant convert every since.


  • Mike

    This was classic…there is nothing better than eggplant parm and I was envying ever shot…that was such a beautiful plate with the noodles! Thanks!


  • Elizabeth Perella

    Yum! Making this weekend – it’s been way too long and this article made me hungry.


  • Woodrow

    Almost always at an Italian restaurant, I intend to try something other than eggplant, but usually go for some eggplant dish. What you made looks great, and I am with you…just enough sauce to complement the eggplant/chicken/veal.



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