So how do you feel about Eggplant Parmesan? I think of Italian comfort food. I usually get it as a sandwich. I’m picky about it though. The eggplant needs to be thin and kinda crispy. No big chunks of mushy eggplant for me! I can deal with a softer grilled eggplant on a platter with other grilled veggies, but not on a sandwich or in a baked casserole. I need some texture in there. I know what you’re thinking…HIGH MAINTENANCE! I admit it. I am definitely pretty specific in my food tastes. In fact, I’d rather just skip it than eat something that I’m not in the mood for. Unless ravenous, of course. In that case, it ain’t pretty.
I have an adorable Italian father-in-law who is quite the gardener. He’s been stopping by quite regularly with eggplants, peppers, tomatoes and fresh basil. The peppers, tomatoes and basil are easy. I can quickly incorporate them into a nice meal or snack. I’m not very experienced with eggplant, however. Uncle Greg to the rescue!
My brother, Uncle Greg, as he’s known in our family, sent me a video from nytimes.com last week where something called an Eggplant Marinara Sandwich was being made. It looked amazing! I was literally drooling by the end of the video. I watched it a couple of times and one thing that stuck out was that the eggplant was thin and crispy, but didn’t have a breadcrumb coating. “Hmmmm,” I said to myself. I’m going to make that, but as a baked main dish without the bread. That way it will be both low-carb and gluten-free.
I showed it to my Italian husband and he thought it looked great too. He agreed with the chefs that using mozzarella cheese in something like an Eggplant Parmesan is more American and that Pecorino or Provolone would have more flavor and is what is used more in Italy in this dish. I don’t know if this is true. It seems to me that Italian recipes vary greatly depending on the region and what is considered the “classic” is usually what someone’s mother or grandmother made. This goes for my husband too, whose own mom was an amazing cook, from what I’ve been told. How’s that for pressure?
I decided to make this recipe with the same cooking technique as the video, and with both Provolone and Parmesan cheese since that’s what I had on hand. It was a complete success! We all loved it. Just serve up a salad or vegetable to go with it and dinner will be on the table.
The family agreed that this is one for the binder of our family favorites. I hope you enjoy it too. Do you have a baked eggplant recipe to share? If you try this one, which I hope you do, please let me know how it goes.
Here’s the printable. The recipe makes one small casserole. I used an 8×8 Pyrex dish, but this can be doubled for an 8×13 pan. You can also make it thicker in the 8×8 by doing three layers of the eggplant. I think I may do that the next time. Enjoy!
- 1 large eggplant cut into thin lengthwise strips
- 1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
- 5 eggs
- 1½ cups grated Provolone cheese
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- olive oil
- Cut your eggplant lengthwise into ¼ inch slices.
- Lay out the eggplant onto a paper towel lined baking pan and salt both sides.
- After the eggplant looks sweaty, blot it with more paper towels to soak up the excess moisture.
- Heat the oil over medium heat and cook the eggplant for about 2 minutes per side.
- When the eggplant comes out of the oil, put it back onto more dry paper towels to soak up the excess.
- Beat the eggs and ½ cup of the Provolone in a flat dish.
- Dredge the eggplant in the egg and cheese wash and cook another couple minutes per side until browned and crispy.
- Put back on clean paper towels to again soak up the extra oil.
- Put a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of your 8x8 pan.
- Layer the eggplant, sauce, Provolone and Parmesan into the pan so that the eggplant touches and reach the sides in it's layer, no spaces.
- The last layer should be a layer of cheese.
- Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and then let it sit for at least 5 minutes before cutting.