Eggplant Parmesan is a dish Wheels likes to order when we eat out. This Easy Eggplant Parmesan is a similar version. Actually, it came about when we were leaving a workout session a couple of days ago. During the summer, people bring in excess garden produce and leave it on a table by the elevator under a “help yourself” sign. We bring in tomatoes and leave with cucumbers usually. But this time, while we were waiting, a woman walked in and laid fresh picked eggplant in the basket. On impulse I picked up one just as the elevator door opened. Wheels said hopefully, “Eggplant Parmesan?” I ‘m still a sucker for those dark chocolate eyes – what can I say. The eggplant came home with us.
Peel the eggplant – just like a potato. Slice into slices not quite half an inch thick. Ours yielded 12 slices – six serving. Sprinkle or rub salt on both sides of each slice and place salted slices, one at a time, into a large colander. Let set for at least 30 minutes, before rinsing thoroughly to remove the salt and the excess moisture it has drawn from the eggplant. Use paper towels to pat slices dry. This process is called sweating. It produces a better flavor and reduces the moisture content so that the end product is cheesy and flavorful – not watery.
While the eggplant is “sweating”, read the recipe through so the actual preparation goes smoothly and quickly and begin preheating the oven. Prepare baking dish and gather ingredients and utensils needed. Prepare the egg wash and bread crumbs. The recipe above will cover 8 -12 slices of eggplant once. I wanted a crisp crust so I used panko bread crumbs and double dipped them, meaning that each egg plant slice went through the eggs, crumbs and repeat so there was a thicker breading. That meant I needed to double the number of eggs and the amount of crumbs and seasonings. If you like a lighter layer of breading or are pressed for time, by all means skip the second layer and make the seasoned cheese and crumb mixture as given in the recipe.
Place the eggplant slices, bowls of beaten egg and crumb mixture on a cookie sheet next the range top for easy cleanup. (Or am I just a messy cook? I had crumbs and egg drips everywhere!) Before you start the actual dredging process, begin to preheat a large skillet with a quarter cup of oil over medium heat. Have a plate ready to hold the dredged slices until the oil is hot. Place the slices, four at a time into the hot oil and cook until golden, about 2 minutes on each side. You will need additional oil for each skillet full. Arrange the fried slices in prepared baking dish, one layer deep. Cover with half the spaghetti sauce (your favorite – I used garlic and olive oil flavor) and half the cheese. Repeat for second layer. Place in preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Results? Good tasting and filling. A change from our usual routine. The heated leftovers were almost as good as the fresh dish. And, most importantly, a happy husband .
- 1 eggplant, peeled and sliced
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 1⁄2 cups panko crumbs
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1⁄4 cup olive oil plus additional oil
- 1 24 ounce jar of spaghetti sauce
- 1 8 ounce package shredded mozzarella cheese
- Arrange a layer of eggplant slices in a colander. Sprinkle generously with salt. Continue layering and salting all eggplant slices. Let stand 30 minutes. Liquid will be visible on the surface of the eggplant slices. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
- Preheat oven to temperature 350°F
- Beat egg in shallow bowl and mix panko crumbs, grated parmesan cheese and seasonings in second shallow bowl. Dip each eggplant slice in beaten egg, and dredge with seasoned panko crumbs. If desired, repeat so each slice is dipped twice – you will need to double ingredients.
- Heat oil in a heavy skillet. Over medium high heat, fry eggplant in hot oil about 2 minutes each side until golden. Place on paper towel lined plate to absorb grease.
- Arrange half the eggplant slices in the bottom of baking dish sprayed lightly with nonstick spray. Spread half the sauce over top. Sprinkle with half the mozzarella and half the Parmesan. Repeat layers.
- Bake 20-25 minutes or until mixture is bubbly.
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