best eggplant parmesan in a baking dish
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Best Eggplant Parmesan

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This recipe for Best Eggplant Parmesan is a traditionally cooked Italian eggplant parmesan with rich flavors and a gooey cheesy topping.

One of the very best things I love to grow in my garden is eggplants. They grow abundantly when cared for properly. Their beautiful purple flowers and light greenery make the garden patch they are in especially lovely. I love seeing the deep purple eggplants growing off the velvety green stalks. To pluck them and bring them inside for lunch is a treat.

In the states, eggplant parmesan is very often battered dipped and fried. Yet this version is more of the traditional Italian-style eggplant parmesan. A variation you would see on an Italian menu when dining out in different parts of Italy. In fact, that was the first time I had an eggplant parmesan grilled and not battered dipped. At an eatery just outside St. Augustine. My daughter and I dined on grilled eggplant parmesan and enjoyed the wall ac offered at the little eatery on a warm summer day.

Surprisingly, it was delicious without the fried component. Simply made with fresh ingredients. The tomato sauce somehow complimented the eggplant perfectly. I realized that the grilled eggplant stands up to the sauce all on its own. There is no need to fry anything. Not unless you want to of course. For me, skipping this step is welcomed. I don’t particularly enjoy standing over a hot skillet with grease popping at me.

But the real surprise is how food tastes best when served straightforward fashion. Nothing overdone. Fresh ingredients and simple cooking. Something I am very much enjoying about Italian cooking.

This dish is so delicious and one that even when made over and over as it was in my house. We don’t tire of it. We looked forward to it every time it made its way onto the dinner table. I hope you find it the same.

Best Eggplant Parmesan Video

What You Will Need To Make It

2 large eggplants

2 (15 oz) cans diced and crushed tomatoes

3/4 cup of olive oil

2 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

2 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup diced onions

1 cup mozzarella cheese

1 cup grated grated fresh parmesan

Directions

Begin by slicing eggplants in 1/4 inch thick slices (as shown).

sliced eggplants on a plate

Sprinkle a tsp of the sea salt over the eggplant. Allow it to sit for about 30 minutes. After it has sat, dab the eggplant with a paper towel to remove the excess water and salt.

woman grilling eggplant slices in a cast iron skillet

Pour about 1/2 cup of olive oil into a skillet. Cook eggplant on both sides in batches. When done. Set aside.

a plate of cooked eggplant slices

Drizzle 2 tbsp of olive oil into the same pan and begin sautéing the onions. Add the garlic, and allow it to cook for just a few seconds making sure it doesn’t burn. Add the tomatoes and a tsp of salt. Chop the basil and add about a half cup of it to the cooking tomatoes. Simmer for about 5-7 minutes. Allowing the flavors to blend. Taste to make sure there is enough salt to your liking, add more if necessary.

a woman making tomato sauce
a pan with tomato sauce and herbs added

Remove from heat. Pour half a cup of the sauce into the bottom of the baking dish and lay a layer of eggplant over it.

woman putting together the best eggplant parmesan in a baking dish
eggplants being layered in a baking dish over sauce
best eggplant parmesan in a baking dish ready for the oven

Then add more sauce over the eggplant, add a bit of both kind of cheese over the top and then repeat the layering process until all the eggplant is used.

 best eggplant parmesan in a baking dish ready to be cooked

Finally topping with the remaining cheeses.

Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil over the top and garnish with the remainder of the basil.

best eggplant parm in a baking dish

Pop it into the oven at 400℉ for 20-25 minutes until it is golden and bubbly.

Cooking Notes

  • It is important to salt the eggplant slices and allows them to sit. This draws out the excess moisture otherwise the moisture makes for a watered-down consistency to the sauce. Don’t skip this step.
  • Slice eggplants into uniform 1/4 inch thick slices for best results
  • You can use fresh tomatoes over canned for this recipe by cooking slicing them and cooking them down in the pan with the spices then blending them with an emulsion blender.
  • Using a cast iron skillet for grilling the eggplant works well. If you do not have a cast iron skillet, you can also roast the eggplant slices on a baking sheet for 10 to 12 minutes. Be sure to brush the slices with olive oil before placing them in the oven.

How To Select The Best Eggplant

When selecting an eggplant from either the grocery store or your own garden. Look for ones that are slightly firm but not hard. If you push on the skin of the eggplant and find that your finger goes right through, the eggplant is over-ripened. This should not be used. Avoid eggplants with holes or punctures in them. A good eggplant should have a nice taut skin and glossy surface.

How To Cut an Eggplant

Cutting an eggplant is very simple. Although they are shaped oddly you can either choose to cut the eggplant into rings, as the recipe calls for. Or diced for other dishes. You do not have to peel the eggplant since the skin is edible and thin so it is easily eaten. To cut into rings, start with a freshly cleaned and dried eggplant. Using a chef’s knife, slice off the top stem portion of the eggplant. Turn the eggplant on it’s side and begin slices into 1/4 inch rings starting at the top. Slice the entire eggplant until you get to the bottom. You can use the bottom of the eggplant or discard if you want all your pieces to be uniform for the recipe.

Serving Suggestions for Best Eggplant Parmesan

  • This Best Eggplant Parmesan pairs well with a tossed green salad.
  • Garlic bread is a favorite when served with this dish. I smother a loaf of sourdough french bread with garlic butter and pop it under a broiler. It makes a delicious, crisp garlic bread that is great for dipping into the leftover sauce on your plate.
  • To add some protein to the table, sliced grilled Italian sausages work perfectly. I grill several and then sliced them into bite-sized pieces. Serve them on a platter next to the eggplant parmesan.

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best eggplant parmesan in a baking dish

Best Eggplant Parmesan

Yield: 8 sevings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

a delicious dish of eggplant, crushed tomatoes, basil and cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of diced and crushed tomatoes
  • 2 large eggplants
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion

Instructions

    1. Begin by slicing eggplants in 1/4 inch thick slices (as shown). Sprinkle a tsp of the sea salt over the eggplant. Allow it to sit for about 30 minutes.
    2. After it has sat, dab the eggplant with a paper towel to remove the excess water and salt.
    3. Pour about 1/2 cup of olive oil into a skillet. Cook eggplant on both sides in batches. When done. Set aside.
    4. Drizzle 2 tbsp of olive oil into the same pan and begin sautéing the onions. Add the garlic, and allow it to cook for just a few seconds making sure it doesn't burn.
    5. Add the tomatoes and a tsp of salt.
    6. Chop the basil and add about a half cup of it to the cooking tomatoes.
    7. Simmer for about 5-7 minutes. Allowing the flavors to blend.
    8. Taste to make sure there is enough salt to your liking, add more if necessary. Remove from heat.
    9. Pour half a cup of the sauce into the bottom of the baking dish and lay a layer of eggplant over it. Then add more sauce over the eggplant, add a bit of both kind of cheese over the top and then repeat the layering process until all the eggplant is used. Finally, top with the remaining cheeses. Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil over the top and garnish with the remainder of the basil.
    10. Pop it into the oven at 400℉ for 20-25 minutes until it is golden and bubbly.

Notes

This recipe works best in a 9 x 12 baking dish

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 344Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 927mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 5gSugar: 7gProtein: 9g

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