Eggplant Parmesan was a dish my great-grandmother on my daddy's side would prepare what seemed like daily! She was no taller than 4'11", wore big '60s framed glasses (think Sophia Petrillo) that teetered on the end of her nose, and she always wore a smock. My great-grandmother was the matriarch of the kitchen, and beyond!
I remember, when I was a little boy, she would always give me two things: A crisp dollar bill, and these amazing hard candies that she kept in the front coat closet in a tin, tucked away on the top shelf. She knew my favorite things to eat were Italian rolls smeared with butter, instant mashed potatoes (tinted yellow from all the butter), and her fried eggplant and homemade sauce! She was a lovely woman with the heart and soul of an Italian saint.
While I do love to pan fry my eggplant, just as my great-grandmother did, I thought I would create a lighter (and perhaps a bit more healthy) version of this classic recipe! The oven is the perfect alternative to standing over a pan on the stove top. While I have a recipe for Crispy Eggplant Parmesan in my new cookbook, Entertaining with Love, that is a perfect indulgent meal, this baked version is a great weeknight entrée! I've even included my recipe for a truly FABULOUS, yet super simple, spicy marinara sauce! Cheers to all the great-and-grandmothers out there!
Ingredients (serves 6)
Eggplant – 1 large, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch think
Bread Crumbs – 1 cup, unseasoned
White Pepper – ½ teaspoon
Kosher Salt – ¾ teaspoon
Oregano – 1 teaspoon, dried
Basil – 1 teaspoon, dried
Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons
Egg – 1, extra large, lightly beaten
Milk – ½ cup
Parmesan – ⅓ cup, as garnish
Start by preheating the oven to 475 degrees F.
Combine the egg and milk in a shallow bowl.
Next, add the bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and spices in another shallow bowl. Stir to combined.
Pour the olive oil into the base of a half sheet pan, then spread the oil to cover the entire pan. Set aside.
Dip each slice of eggplant into the dry mixture, then the wet mixture, and then again in the dry mixture. Place onto the prepared sheet pan. Repeat process until all slices of eggplant have been coated.
Next, place the sheet pan into the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Flip the eggplant and continue baking for another 10 minutes or until the eggplant is browned and crisp.
Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
Yellow Onion – ½ cup, finely minced
Garlic – 3 cloves, finely minced
Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes – ¼ teaspoon, or to taste
Olive oil – 1 tablespoon
Basil – ⅓ cup, finely minced
San Marzano Tomatoes – 1 (28-ounce) can, crushed
Start by heating the olive oil in a medium sauté pan set over medium-low heat
Add the onion, crushed red pepper flakes, and pepper and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, so that the onions are tender and translucent. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and basil and simmer uncovered on low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Tip: You can also store in an air right container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.