I love eggplant parmesan. I love anything breaded served with tomato sauce. Most eggplant parmesan’s tend to be fried which transforms eggplan from a healthy, great
non-meat substitute to a sponge that soaks up all the oil it’s fried in. This recipe caught my eye because not only does baking the eggplant result in less work, it also results in way less calories. I bake almost everything that is more traditionally fried, like french fries, sambosas, etc, and I honestly can say that when sprinkled with a little oil they come out with the same golden crispy deliciousness. I also liked this as a vegetarian dish, we try to cook meat free once a week just to take a break. I went with a Cook’s Illustrated recipe because they have a reputation for delivering consistently delicious results. The recipe was a hit, and a must repeat, but quantities were a little off. Making it the original way led to a big surplus of breadcrumbs and a shortage on sauce. Below, you’ll find my adaptation on the recipe:
Baked Eggplant Parmesan, loosely adapted from Cook’s Illustrated and as seen on Smells like Home
For the Eggplant:
2-3 medium eggplants (about 1-1.5 kgs) cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (about 30 grams)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Italian seasoning (optional, my own add in)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
For the Tomato Sauce:
3 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes or pureed or crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and ground pepper
200 grams whole or part-skim mozzarella, shredded (2 cups)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 30 grams)
10 fresh basil leaves, for garnish
To make the eggplant:
In a large bowl, toss half of the eggplant slices and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt; transfer salted eggplant to colander set over bowl. Repeat with remaining eggplant and salt. You are basically draining the salted eggplant in the sink. Let stand until eggplant releases about 2 tablespoons liquid, 30 to 45 minutes. Arrange eggplant slices on a triple layer of paper towels; cover with a triple layer of paper towels. Firmly press each slice to remove as much liquid as possible, then wipe off excess salt.
While eggplant is draining, adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-thirds of the oven, place rimmed baking sheets on both racks, and heat oven to 220 degrees C.
In a pie plate or shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Combine flour and 1 teaspoon pepper and a dash of italian seasoning if using in large zipper-lock bag; shake to combine. Beat eggs in second pie plate. Place 8 to 10 eggplant slices in bag with flour, dip in eggs, let excess egg run off, then coat evenly with breadcrumb mixture. Set breaded slices on wire rack set over baking sheet. Repeat with remaining eggplant.
Remove preheated baking sheets from oven; add 3 tablespoons oil to each sheet, tilting to coat evenly with oil. Place half of breaded eggplant on each sheet in single layer; bake until eggplant is well browned and crisp, about 30 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets after 10 minutes, and flipping eggplant slices with wide spatula after 20 minutes. Do not turn off oven.
To make the sauce:
While eggplant bakes, process 2 cans diced tomatoes in food processor or blender until almost smooth (if using pureed or crushed tomatoes, skip this step). If you don’t want too much texture, also puree the 3rd can, otherwise you’ll be adding this diced to the sauce.
Heat olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is light golden, about 3 minutes; stir in processed and remaining can of tomatoes. Bring sauce to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened and reduced, about 15 minutes. Stir in basil and season to taste.
Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in bottom of 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Layer in half of eggplant slices, overlapping slices to fit; distribute 1 cup sauce over eggplant; sprinkle with half of mozzarella. Layer in remaining eggplant and dot with 1 cup sauce, leaving majority of eggplant exposed so it will remain crisp. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan and remaining mozzarella.
Bake until bubbling and cheese is browned, 13 to 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, scatter basil over top, and serve, passing remaining tomato sauce separately. I made some spaghetti pasta, and served with the tomato sauce and eggplant. A little time consuming, but an absolutely delicious recipe.