Eggplant parmesan is one of those recipes that I seem to fall back on when it comes to eggplant season. The big purple globes can be served in many different ways, but I think breading them and frying them is one of the most common. Eggplants do take a little more time and effort in cooking, but they are not to be feared. Give yourself a little extra time with an eggplant and you’ll come to realize they are quite easy to cook and even better to eat!
When choosing an eggplant for this dish, make sure you obtain ones with a firm skin and heavy density. The skin should be free from soft spots and the inner flesh should be slightly crisp and heavy with moisture. Once you choose your preferred eggplant, slice into rounds that are about 1.5 to 2 centimeters wide. This is a great width for the eggplant once it has been pressed and fried.
A note on eggplant; eggplant contains a lot of moisture, and cooking eggplant requires that this moisture be removed before cooking. If you skip this step you will have some soggy eggplant, and that is not gonna be tasty! Not to worry though, the salting and pressing is quite easy to do- simply salt your eggplant on both sides and lay flat on a wire rack set into a baking sheet. Leave in the fridge for about 2 hours, if not longer, and flip to remove moisture from the otherside. At most, the eggplant should exude moisture for about 4 to 5 hours. After this time, remove the eggplant from the fridge and press with paper towels to absorb moisture. Make sure that you remove most of the moisture from the slices.
Now onto the hardest part of the process- breading. To make it easier on yourself, you should make 3 bowls: flour, beaten eggs, and bread crumbs. I made some bread crumbs from some leftover loaf I had, but panko or store bought, all varieties work equally as well. Make sure you add more to the bowl if you run out- there is nothing I, or ghee, can do to save you from an under-breaded egg parm.
Once you have breaded your eggplants, you can now fry them up! You’re looking to get a nice brown color on the slices. Set aside on a paper towel lined baking sheet fitted with a wire rack to drain. You can then create your stacks with the eggplant rounds. I like to alternate the cheeses in between the slices of eggplant, as well as include a basil leaf.
When your stacks have been made and they look sturdy you can now place them on a baking sheet, or in a baking pan. I start with a layer of marinara sauce on the bottom to prevent sticking during baking. After the stacks are transferred, they get a topping of the marinara sauce and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. Once the cheese is melted and the eggplants are warmed through you can serve and enjoy!
- 2 medium sized eggplants; cut into rounds, salted on both sides, pressed to remove moisture
- Full Circle Ghee Traditional
- Marinara sauce; homemade or store bought
- Provolone cheese slices
- Mozzarella cheese slices
- Basil leaves
- All purpose flour
- 2 eggs; beaten
- Breadcrumbs; panko or Italian style
- Parmesan; for serving
- Start with prepping your eggplant- cut it into rounds that are about ¼ inch wide. Salt both sides and place on a wire rack fitted into a baking sheet. Place in the fridge for at least two hours if not longer, maybe overnight.
- Using a paper towel or kitchen towel, press the eggplant slices to release more of the water. They should be flattened in the middle and slightly bruised looking.
- Set up your breading station; 1 bowl of AP flour, 1 bowl containing your 2 eggs; beaten, and the last bowl with your style of bread crumbs. Working in a line, you’ll want to put a slice of eggplant in the flour, move to the egg bath and coat both sides, and lastly transfer to the bowl with breadcrumbs. Make sure to press as many bread crumbs onto eggplant slices as you can to ensure an even coating.
- Fry them up! Using a decent amount of ghee, make sure to have about an inch of oil in the deep saute pan. Bring up to around 350 degrees on medium heat and, working in batches, fry the breaded eggplant until golden brown.
- Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel lined baking sheet, or on a wire rack on the baking sheet to remove excess oil.
- Heat oven to 350. In the meantime, when slices are cool to the touch, assemble your stacks. Start with an eggplant slice, put a basil leaf, and cheese. Repeat until the stacks are 3 eggplant slices high and topped with cheese.
- Spoon some marinara onto a baking sheet and spread around evenly. Not too much, but just enough to prevent sticking.
- Place stacks onto the baking sheet with marinara. Generously spoon the marinara over the stacks so that they are covered, but not swimming in sauce.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the stacks have been heated through.
- Sprinkle remaining herbs (parsley and leftover basil work great together), and sprinkle with parmesan.
- Serve and enjoy!
I like to serve this meal alongside some vegetables. I prefer to keep it in the same culture so a charred broccolini or arugula salad typically goes great. If you really want to splurge you can make a side of pasta, but since the eggplant parm has a lot of richness already we typically balance it out with veggies. Your dish- your call!