I’ve been making eggplant parmigiana for decades, and if you’re like me, you’re making it the way most people (and cookbooks) instruct you to do, that is, frying the eggplant after coating the slices separately in flour, beaten eggs and then bread crumbs. The eggplant tastes great when it comes out of the fryer, with its crunchy coating and makes a delicious side dish as is. But why fry it crispy, only to coat it in layers of tomato sauce and cheese, that will in essence, render the crispy eggplant completely soggy?
It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve said “arrivederci” to the three step process of coating eggplant slices for parmigiana in favor of grilling eggplant for this classic casserole instead. You don’t have to use an outdoor grill – a stovetop grill pan works just fine.
This method of making eggplant parmigiana is easier, and much lighter, and closer to the way it’s served in Italy. I recently made a couple of casseroles of this for a party, and everyone went back for seconds. I don’t think I’ll go back to the triple coating and frying method again – unless it’s to serve them straight out of the fryer as a side dish.
Place some tomato sauce on the bottom of an ovenproof dish (I use a very basic marinara – no meat, and it’s better if it’s a little on the thin, or runny side since it thickens up when it bakes with the eggplant and cheeses). Layer with slices of eggplant, shredded mozzarella and parmigiana cheese. Continue for two or three more layers, depending on how much eggplant, sauce and cheese you have. When you’ve used the last of your eggplant slices, cover them with more tomato sauce and cheese and place in the oven.
Bake at 375 degrees until bubbly hot and browned on top. If needed, crank the oven temperature to 425 degrees for the last five minutes, but keep a close watch on it because it can easily burn,
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- Two large eggplant
- about 1 - 2 cups tomato sauce (on the thin side because it will thicken in the oven)
- olive oil to coat the eggplant slices
- salt, pepper
- seasoned salt
- dried basil
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Peel the eggplant, but not entirely.
- Peel "stripes" in the eggplant, so some peel remains.
- Drizzle olive oil over the slices, and season with salt pepper, (herbed salt if you have it) and dried basil.
- Use an indoor grill pan to grill the eggplant slices (I don't like using an outdoor grill for this recipe since I don't want a "smoky" flavor).
- Remove the eggplant slices when cooked through, and set aside.
- Spread some tomato sauce in a casserole and place a layer of eggplant slices over the sauce.
- Spread with a layer of the mozzarella cheese, then a layer of the parmesan.
- Repeat with more sauce, another layer of the eggplant and cheeses
- If you have enough eggplant, make a third layer, even if it's only a partial layer, in order to use up the rest of the eggplant.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is golden.
- If the top is still not golden, turn the heat up higher to 425 degrees, but keep a close watch so it doesn't burn.