This is probably the best eggplant dish I’ve ever made. The cheese was gooey and looked like pictures from a magazine as we cut each slice and pulled it apart. I’m telling you it was heaven. There are a lot of steps, but they are totally worth it. I’d give you a time frame for cooking and prep, but since I was taking pictures as I went it was hard to gauge. Let me share with you, a picture documentary of how this edible slice of dreamland was created.
Let’s start with ingredients:
- 1 medium to large eggplant
- oil for frying
- 1 cup flour
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup wheat bran
- 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 3 tbsp parsley flakes
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- spaghetti sauce (I make my own, but you can use whatever is your favorite)
- mozzarella cheese, shredded
- parmesan cheese
Start by slicing the eggplant into approximately 1/4 inch slices. I dispose of the ends. It’s up to you if you want to peel your eggplant or not. We like to keep the peel on because it has extra nutrients, but some people prefer to peel it. It is 100% up to you what you decide to do with it.
Next you will want to sweat your eggplant. To do this salt both sides of each slice and place in a colander to drain. Don’t be stingy on your salt, this is not for seasoning, you’ll wash it off when you’re done. What is happening is the salt is helping to draw out extra moisture in the eggplant. This will help to keep your eggplant from getting too soggy while it cooks, it will improve the texture and it will also improve the flavor since many eggplants are a bit on the bitter side. Leave the eggplant in the colander to drain for approximately 30 minutes. I like to take this time to prep the rest of the steps for the recipe, start heating the oil in a large skillet on medium to medium high heat, start heating up the sauce, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
This is an up-close picture of the eggplant sweating. You can see some of the salt glistening, but some of that is also moisture droplets forming as the eggplant sweats. After the 30 min rinse each slice under water to get all of the excess salt off, then pat dry with a paper towel. Don’t skip the drying step because you don’t want extra moisture making your final dish soggy.
Sorry for the blurry image here, but after all slices of eggplant are dried, you’ll start the breading process. First dredge them in flour. You can salt and pepper the slices first if you want, but I usually don’t to help reduce the extra sodium in the recipe.
Next dip the slices in egg. You might be able to get away with just 2 eggs, but I hate stopping in the middle of the breading to mix up another egg when my fingers are covered in breading.
Finally bread each slice. This breading mixture is the bread crumbs, wheat bran, Italian seasonings, parsley, salt and pepper mixed together. Make sure you cover each slice completely with breading.
Don’t they look absolutely divine sitting there waiting to be fried?
Next fry each eggplant slice for approximately 2 to 3 minutes on each side. I only do a few at a time so I can keep track of them and get them in and out of the pan easier.
When they are done frying, I place them back in the colander set on a plate to allow the excess oil drain off. I like doing this better than placing them on a paper towel because to me the paper towel lets the grease soak into the breading making it soggy, and draining it in the colander makes it a bit more crispy. I don’t know if that’s true or if I just think that happens, but that’s my reasoning behind it. I’ve never tested it.
I like to shred my cheese from a block rather than buy store bought pre shredded cheese. To me this cheese is a bit more gooey and a little less oily in the end. But you can use a bag of pre shredded if that works for you. I know it takes extra time (and clean up) to shred your own. But doesn’t it look delicious!
I got a bit overzealous while layering the eggplant parmesan so I forgot to take pictures of the layering process, but ultimately this is what it is: grease pan with cooking spray or butter, put a thin layer of sauce on the bottom, layer some eggplant, top with more sauce, cheese and parmesan, then layer again with eggplant, sauce, cheese and parmesan. Simple. I use an 8×8 baking dish, but you can use a bigger one if you made more eggplant or if you want just a single layer of eggplant.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and starting to brown. Sauce will probably be bubbling up the sides. Take it out of the oven and let it set for about 5 min before cutting. In a square baking dish I cut this into 9 slices, but you can make servings bigger or smaller to suit your family.
Serve it up and enjoy. Doesn’t this slice look amazing! We served ours with a side of spaghetti and some garlic roll ups. I know it’s a lot of carbs, but it was all so good together. To lighten up your sides a bit, this would be delicious with a garden salad and a light vinaigrette dressing. Pair it with red wine if you drink alcohol, or a tall glass of iced tea if you’d rather. Eat it alone if you want. All I know is this dish was a hit with the entire family, even the kids! Leftovers were also good and not soggy, so don’t be afraid to pull it out of the fridge for lunch the next day. Enjoy and tell me what you think of it!
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