Next to ratatouille, eggplant parmesan is my favorite way to eat one of summer’s grand vegetables, and a good excuse for growing eggplants. I have assembled it in casseroles, baked, then carved the result into blocks of deliciousness to serve. The following simpler method makes individual servings which can be put together on a baking sheet, tastes just as good and is handsome to look at. Our friend Cris Lerose showed me how he prepares it.
First off, he does not salt the slices. Sometimes he peels the eggplant but that is optional. The bread crumbs can be the panko-style extra crispy crumbs or plain purchased crumbs, or dried ones you make yourself from slightly stale bread.
Two lengthwise slices of eggplant per person usually suffices, more or less depending on your preferences. Dip in flour, then egg, and then the crumbs; fry in olive oil until they are fork tender. Start with one egg beaten; if you need more, break and beat another. Lay the slice on a baking sheet, top it with a smear of your favorite–homemade or not–tomato sauce, then a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese, a thin slice of mozzarella or plentiful scatter if grated, another slice of eggplant, mozzarella then top with sauce and a sprinkle of parmesan. Bake it until it is hot and the mozzarella is melted. You could top it with mozzarella instead. We shredded up a little fresh basil to garnish it.
This method really turned the eggplant into a main dish. Suppose you wanted eggplant as a side dish with perhaps grilled Italian sausage or chicken: you could slice the eggplant crosswise instead of lengthwise, to end up with round slabs which you could stack up and bake in the same fashion but end up with smaller servings.
The average eggplant easily makes enough for two to three people. The “recipe” that follows is mostly a non-recipe, more a set of guidelines.
Perfectly delicious and somehow it just seemed so much easier to me than building a whole casserole.
- 1 medium to large eggplant
- 1 egg, beaten
- Bread crumbs
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Olive oil
- Tomato sauce
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a baking sheet.
- Peel and cut an eggplant lengthwise into half-inch thick slices.
- Put the egg, flour, and bread crumbs each into flat dishes such as pie plates. Add salt and pepper to the flour.
- Heat olive oil in a frying pan.
- Dip each slice into flour, then egg, then crumbs and put on the fry pan to brown.
- When the eggplant is just tender, remove to a baking pan.
- Add tomato sauce, parmesan and mozzarella and repeat with a second layer of eggplant, sauce and mozzarella.
- Bake for twenty to thirty minutes or until the mozzarella is melted, and the dish is bubbling hot.