Aaahhh, cheesy Baked Eggplant Parmesan. One of my husband’s favorites. I remember making it for the first time and wondering how my kids would perceive it. I mean, it has no meat in it! Because it resembles lasagna they dove into it without even asking what it was. It was love at first bite.
I find this method is easier to prepare than the traditional fried version and it’s definitely a little easier on the waistline without forfeiting any of the delicious flavor or texture. Try it and you’ll see.
Don’t sweat the small stuff….but definitely sweat your eggplant! Here’s how.
Eggplant can have bitterness to them and this process helps eliminate that. Not all of them will have that bitter element, but to me it’s not worth the risk so I always sweat my eggplant. Whether you peel them is personal preference. It isn’t necessary and I love the deep purple color not to mention that there are vitamins and additional flavor in the skin. I’ve done it both ways but took the easy way out here and left the skin on.
You’ll slice them into approximately ¼” thick slices. Try to slice them as uniformly as possible.
Grab a colander and your salt. Now sprinkle some salt on both sides of each slice. Layer them in the colander and place the colander in your sink.
Place a heavy dish or pan over the top to press them down and walk away. Now go do one of the other hundreds of tasks on your to do list and forget about the eggplant. After 30-45 minutes, return to the sink and you’ll see that they have “sweat” out some liquid.
Once the salt has done its thing you can rinse the slices well with cold water and then blot them dry with paper towels. It’s important that you get them nice and dry for the next step.
Bread the slices by dipping them first in beaten egg and then in the Italian Style Panko Bread Crumbs. You can use any type of bread crumbs you prefer but I love panko style crumbs for breading. Next you’ll place the breaded slices on a baking sheet that you have coated generously with cooking spray. In the oven they go. This is where the “no fry” part comes in.
When they come out of the oven they’ll be nice and crisp and ready to layer…all with no oil. No muss, no fuss! Now you are ready to layer them with the marinara, mozzarella, and parmesan in your 13 x 9 dish.
……and even better coming out. Time to open a nice bottle of red and enjoy!
Baked Eggplant Parmesan
- 3 eggplant, sliced 1/4" thick (you'll need 12 slices)
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 (8 ounce) box Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
- 1 (26 ounce) jar marinara sauce
- 1 (16 ounce) package fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
- cooking spray
- Sprinkle some salt on both sides of each slice of eggplant. Layer the slices in a colander and place the colander in your sink. Place a heavy dish or pan over the top to press them down. Allow to sweat for 30 to 45 minutes. Rinse well with cold water to remove salt and blot dry with paper towels.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a rimmed baking sheet generously with cooking spray. Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in bread crumbs, pressing crumbs down with fingers if needed to cover evenly. Place in a single layer on oiled baking sheet and lightly spray tops of breaded eggplant with cooking spray. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes then carefully flip each slice and cook an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- In a 9x13 inch baking dish spread just enough marinara to cover bottom of dish. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Cover each slice with a spoon full of marinara, a slice or two of mozzarella, and then sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Repeat with one more layer. Pour any leftover marinara and around edges of eggplant slices and top with any cheese that is left. Sprinkle basil on top.
- Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
- Slightly adapted from Allrecipes.com