So, baked eggplant parmesan it was. And it was pretty good. I always meant to make it again, but it fell by the wayside and then eggplant went out of season, and so on. The eggplant is going strong at the farmers' markets right now, so the recipe came to mind and I once again got to enjoy the pleasure of baking eggplant.
You will need:
- Olive oil, for baking sheets
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
- 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (i didn't have this, oh well)
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 2 large eggplants (2 1/2 pounds total), peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds (I used eggplants that were smaller than the prevalent gargantuan ones, and bought 4 of those--whatever just as long as you get to about 2.5 lbs, but I guess I didn't need to tell you that)
- 6 cups Chunky Tomato Sauce
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella (I bought a 1 lb boulder of fresh mozzarella and grated off the right amount)
For the tomato sauce, you need:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cans whole tomatoes, (28 ounces each) (I got the kind with basil, which I won't do next time because it seemed saltier to me, which I suppose I could confirm by looking at the nutrition label but oh well)
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper
Heat up the 1 TBS olive oil over medium heat and add the diced onion and minced garlic. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Crush the tomatoes with your hands in a separate bowl and add to the onion/garlic (I suppose you could also buy 28-oz cans of crushed tomatoes). Also throw in the oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for at least 15 minutes. As with most tomato sauces, I simmered this as long as possible (i.e. while I was prepping the other ingredients), about 35 to 40 minutes.
While your tomato sauce is simmering away, prep the eggplant. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Oil two baking sheets.
In a shallow dish, mix together the eggs with 2 TBS of water (using a fork is fine). I added a touch of salt and pepper, but not too much because the breadcrumb mixture has Parm, salt and pepper. I ruined the surprise.
In a separate shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup grated Parm, dried herbs, salt and pepper.
Slice your eggplant into 1/4 inch slices. The recipe calls for peeling the eggplant but I wasn't up for it.
Dip each eggplant slice in the egg mixture first...
...then in the breadcrumbs...
...and place on your oiled baking sheets.
Cook about 20 to 25 minutes (until golden brown on the bottom), the flip the slices over, rotate sheets and move from top to bottom and vice versa, and cook for another 20-25 minutes. I started with 22 minutes on one side, and discovered that my oven is not only uneven but strongly uneven--the bottoms of the slices on the lower rack got uber uber brown (although luckily not burnt, at least this time). So after the flip, I only cooked for about 17 minutes. Whatever works in your oven is fine.
Yeah, see? Uneven.
Now comes the layering of the tomato sauce, eggplant and mozzarella. Spread 2 cups of sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan. Top with a layer of eggplant.
Cover with 2 cups of sauce. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the mozzarella over the top.
Top with remainder of eggplant slices, remaining 2 cups of sauce, and mozzarella.
Sprinkle the 2 TBS of Parm, and bake for 15-20 minutes.
After baking, let stand for at least 5 minutes before serving.
As a side, I cooked some leftover ditalini pasta that I had (you could use anything) and tossed with a olive oil/garlic sauce. For that sauce, just heat about 2 TBS and 1 TBS butter in a saucepan. Throw in a clove of sliced garlic and a pinch of dried pepper flakes. Cook pasta according to directions on package, drain and toss in sauce. Mix in some grated parm, salt, pepper and chopped parsley. I went easy on the parm, salt and pepper for the pasta because the eggplant was loaded with seasoning and the pasta was meant to be a neutral balance.