• Alessandra DeNardo

Eggplant Parm!

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

Eggplant parm is my favorite food. Sorry, thats a bold statement but it is. Here is a simple recipe that makes DELICIOUS parm. Beware: this is no easy feat. It is a special event. Frying the eggplant is time consuming and after you cook everything, it still needs to rest for 20 min. If you would like to speed up this process, I would suggest making the sauce in advance. Otherwise, all needs to be done at time-of-cooking.


Helpful Hints:

  • Read the entire recipe before you start doing anything.

  • Then look at my Instagram highlight for a visual guide.

  • I used a 9 x 9 baking dish. Serves 4. This can be adjusted based on your needs.

  • If you want to make more, add an eggplant and use 2 cans of tomatoes.

  • If you want to speed it up this process, make the sauce a night or 2 in advance.

  • The eggplant slicing and breading takes the longest, but I would not suggest to do in advance.

  • The eggplant needs to be sliced thin, it is KEY. I hate thick eggplant parm. It should be the size of a thicker slice of American cheese.  It’s hard but worth it.

  • When I made this, I noticed it was a bit watery in the oven, so I uncovered it sooner (some people say to cover for 40 min, I only did for 20). I am giving exactly what I did which turned out perfectly.

  • Let the baking dish rest after you cook it. It makes it even better. Make sure to wait AT LEAST 20 min.

  • Freezing Tip: Freeze it in pieces so that you can unfreeze a few at a time. When you reheat it, you can add a bit more cheese/sauce (if you have or want to make) and it will seem like-new. That is what restaurants do. 

  • Pasta is a nice side and if you would like to do that, use 2 cans of tomatoes for the sauce. 

For Marinara Sauce:

  • 1 can whole or crushed tomatoes (I used whole and crushed with my hands and it worked well). It adds flavor when they start whole. 

  • 3 Garlic Cloves, Sliced thin-ish

  • ½ C olive oil  

  • Parsley, Basil, Oregano, Red Pepper

  • 1-2 handfuls of fresh basil

For Eggplant Parm:

  • 2 Large eggplants, peeled and sliced long-ways and thin (as best as you can…)

  • 2 C flour, 4/5 eggs (beaten), 2 C breadcrumb (not sure of exact amounts but you fill bowls with them to cover the eggplant)

  • Canola Oil or olive oil (I used a mixture of both to fry)

  • 1-2 C pecorino romano cheese and/or parmesan. Pecorino is saltier than parmesan. You can use either or both.

  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced and cut into little pieces

  • ½ C fresh basil, chopped for layers

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Peel and slice eggplant into THIN! slices

  2. Lay eggplant out on paper towels and generously dust with salt on both sides

  3. Let sit for 30 min – 1 hour. Beads of water should form on eggplant. When done salting, thoroughly rinse (or it will be salty, beware) in cold water.

  4. Begin to prepare marinara sauce while waiting. Please see "Marinara and Meatballs" post for a marinara recipe. A quick overview is to saute garlic until golden in oil. Add 1 can of tomatoes, 1/2 can water. Let simmer for 30 min.

  5. Once the sauce has simmered, add all spices and sprigs of Basil. Let simmer another 10-15 and then remove the sprigs of basil. Put to side.

  6. Bread eggplant in following order: flour, egg, breadcrumb. It’s easiest if you have one hand ‘dry’ and only one hand in the egg. Put to side or if you’re comfortable enough, begin frying while you continue to bread eggplant. With 2 people this is possible.

  7. Heat a large frying pan and fill oil about ½ cm deep (enough to fully coat the bottom of the eggplant). Let oil heat and test a small piece of eggplant. When the oil is hot, the eggplant should sizzle as soon as it hits the pan, but not overwhelmingly.

  8. Begin frying the eggplant, about 3-4 min on each side. Check it with a fork and when golden-brown, flip over.

  9. Place all the cooked eggplant on paper towels and let cool.

  10. If you started the sauce in the beginning, this should all be done around the same time.


Assembly:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375-400.  Depending on your oven – if your oven cooks hot, do 375. If it is older, do 400 or even 425. The eggplant will be done when browning on top so this is flexible. You are really just 'heating' it in the oven. 

  2. Begin to assemble your parm. Start with a layer of sauce + parm/pecorino cheese on the bottom of the dish

  3. Add a layer of eggplant, you can overlap them so there are no gaps and distinct layers are formed.

  4. Add 2 ladles of sauce, spread it out

  5. Add parm/pecorino

  6. Add fresh basil

  7. Add mozzarella

  8. Repeat 2 more times (3 layers of eggplant total) and end with a layer of sauce, basil, parm, and slightly less mozzarella than the other layers

  9. Cook in oven for 20-25 min COVERED with foil

  10. Remove foil and cook for 20-30 more min until brown on top and bubbling

  11. When the top starts to brown, remove from oven

  12. LET SIT for 20 min at least. It will harden and come together like you see at a restaurant

  13. Cut into pieces and enjoy. I used a 9 x 9 baking dish and I cut into 6 rectangular slices. 1 was very filling 

ENJOY!

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