I always go wild over eggplant parmesan. It is easily one of my favorite dishes of all time, and I could eat this day and night (I mean…I literally just had eggplant parmesan for breakfast). Eggplant parmesan is a very simple dish made up of layers of pan fried eggplant slices, marinara, and cheese. I’ve made mine extra special by making a sundried tomato marinara for the eggplant to bathe in. I love adding sundried tomatoes to my tomato dishes because it adds a much deeper, complex tomato flavor. It just does wonders for the sauce, which is great because sometimes tomato sauces can be a little one note if you don’t have super fresh rockstar tomatoes. This recipe is dedicated to my friends Jess and Cody. Eating this dish makes me think fondly of the times we made eggplant parmesan in college and each tried to sneak pieces of fried eggplant into our mouths when the others weren’t looking (okay, maybe that was just me). Here’s the recipe:
2 medium eggplants (about 2 lbs)
1 cup flour
1 cup italian bread crumbs
Sundried Tomato Marinara listed below (or storebought marinara)
1 lb shredded mozzarella/provolone blend (do both, trust me)
chopped basil or parsley for sprinkling garnish
Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch thick rounds and rub all the surface area of each slice with lots of salt. Set them in a colander and let drain for 30 minutes. This process is called purging and it not only pulls out bitter juices, but also collapses the eggplant’s sponge-like structure so it doesn’t absorb too much oil. After 30 minutes have elapsed, rinse the salt off the eggplant and dry very well with paper towels (really squeeze that water out of the eggplant).
Set up a breading station with the flour in the first bowl, whisked eggs in the second, and the bread crumbs in the third. Take all the eggplant slices through with the flour first, then the eggs, then the bread crumbs, letting the excess drip off very well before moving on to the next bowl (if you’ve ever had breading fall off, this means you didn’t let the excess drip off).
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat up a skillet over medium high heat. Add about 2 tbsp of olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan) and fry the eggplant slices for about 3 minutes on each side. They should be nice and golden brown, but keep your eye on them to make sure they don’t burn:
Move them to a paper towel to rest, as you work in batches. When all the eggplant has been cooked, get out an 8×8 pan, and spread a thin layer of marinara on the bottom of the pan, then add one layer of eggplant:
Spread more marinara on top, then sprinkle a big handful of the mozzarella provolone cheese on top. Now do more sauce, then more eggplant, then more cheese, and so on. Make sure to end your top layer with cheese, then pop it into the oven for 30 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling. This gives the eggplant time to soften up and the cheese to brown. I like to pile two squares up on top of each other in stacks, then serve with extra marinara on the plate and a little sprinkling of fresh basil on top. Enjoy!
Sundried Tomato Marinara Ingredients:
1 tbsp butter
1 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped carrot
1/4 cup chopped celery rib
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, packed in olive oil and herbs, roughly chopped
28 oz can diced tomatoes (or use fresh if the tomatoes look good)
1/8 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic, and cook for 10 minutes until softened. Add both tomatoes and the thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes, covered. Let the sauce cool, then puree in a blender until smooth.
Click here for the printable recipe.