I just love eggplant parm and this recipe is a little lighter by virtue of baking the eggplant rather than frying. I was lucky enough to get my eggplant from a local farm which made it extra delicious. Be sure to salt and drain the eggplant before baking and use a generous amount of sauce when assembling the dish. I have included a recipe for sauce that will leave you with lots of extra for pasta. Refrigerate or freeze any extra sauce. .
Serves 2-4, small baking dish 71/2 x 6 inches
- 1 large eggplant, sliced in about 8 rounds about 1/2 inch thick
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 1 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cups panko
- 1/4 cup parmesan, plus more for serving
- 8 ounces small mozzarella balls
for red sauce:
- 1 – 28 oz finely diced tomatoes, with juices
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 5 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper, more to taste
- 2 tbsp vodka
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 bunch torn basil leaves, plus more for garnish
Slice your eggplant into 1/2 inch rounds and generously salt either side with kosher salt and place in a colander or on a paper towel lined baking sheet for a couple of hours. In three wide dishes, place flour, eggs and panko combined with parmesan. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment. Lightly dust your eggplant with flour, then dredge in eggs and finally coat with panko-parmesan mixture. Place on eggplant on prepared baking sheet and bake in oven for about 30-40 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
Prepare your red sauce by heating oil and butter in a large skillet on medium heat. Add onions, minced garlic and bay leaf, and sauté until fragrant and translucent. Add crushed tomatoes, torn basil leaves and vodka and simmer gently for 1-2 hours adding water as necessary. Remove bay leaf when sauce is prepared.
assemble and bake:
Reduce oven temp to 350. Ladle a few spoonfuls of sauce on the bottom of your baking dish. Overlap 4 rounds of prepared baked eggplant on the bottom. Cover generously with additional sauce and top with half of chopped mozzarella balls and additional torn basil. Repeat the process again and sprinkle with parmesan. The casserole dish should be nicely full. Bake for about 35-45 minutes until bubbly and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before cutting and garnish with additional fresh basil. Serve with pasta and extra sauce and extra parmesan as desired. Enjoy!