Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Again with true confession time – I’ve never had eggplant and I have most definitely never had eggplant parmesan. I was in Costco, and it seems a lot of my culinary outreaches have started there, and I bought a bag of baby eggplants – and then I spent a week trying to figure out what to do with them.

The first and only time I ever even attemped to have anything eggplant, I bought a bunch of tiny ones – just a little bigger than golf balls – and when I got them cooked (it’s been so long I can’t remember what I attempted), they were bitter and salty and revolting. One bite, a chew or two and into the garbage the whole works went.

I don’t mind saying, I was really afraid that would happen again. I searched quite a bit, trying to find a recipe where I didn’t actually have to salt the eggplant – with high blood pressure adding salt like that just seems to be a bad idea, not to mention because I don’t use much salt, I can really, really taste it when I do use it. I’m still trying to figure out how to make more sauerkraut without salting myself to death. 🙂

I finally lit on recipes for baked eggplant parmesan that didn’t seem to require any pre-salting, so I thought I’d give it a try. I decided on baked simply because I’m working on my weight….and because when I bake it, I can do other things. When I fry stuff, I really need to stay put. Crazy talk, right?!

Ingredients:

  • 4 baby eggplant – they were about 3-4 inches long and about 2 inches across. Yay, Costco!
  • 2 cups of breadcrumbs, panko crumbs, cracker crumbs, Cheerio crumbs – whatever you have, I used cracker crumbs – the consensus among the internet recipes seemed to be Panko, but I never, ever have them so I made do
  • 1 cup of grated Parmesan – I added this to my crumbs and ground them up in the food processor
  • 2-3 tsp oregano
  • 1/2-1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes

Beat the eggs and milk together in a shallow bowl.

Mix the spices, the breadcrumbs and the parmesan together in another shallow bowl.

Trim your eggplant ends off and slice into ¼ thick rounds. Dip into the egg mixture then into the crumb mixture. Place onto a baking sheet covered in parchment and bake at 375 F for about 15 minutes on one side and about 10 minutes on the other side. You can also crank your heat to 400F and bake for 18 minutes total if your oven isn’t a big electric jerk willfully burns anything at that temperature.


Once your rounds are all baked (I needed 3 baking trays to get all mine done):

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar of tomato sauce, 650 ml or about 21 oz – you can absolutely make your own sauce, I just wasn’t feeling the effort involved
  • ½ cup of Parmesan
  • 2 balls of Mozzarella cheese (enough mozzarella to cover the top of the casserole)

Scoop about ½ a cup of sauce into the bottom of a 9×12 baking dish and load on about half of your eggplant. Scoop a cup or so of sauce over that layer. If you’re feeling wild, spread some cheese over this layer – I didn’t. Load up the rest of your eggplant and spread the rest of your sauce, the Parmesan and the mozzarella over the top. Because I used balls of mozzarella, I just sliced it and placed the slices on top.

Pop in the oven for about 20 minutes or so, until everything is bubbling and the cheese is melted. Then turn the oven over to broil & brown that cheese a little – do NOT walk away and burn it, though. 🙂

Take it out and let it sit about 5 minutes, to cool down from lava to edible temperature and serve.

I will do this again, it was great. The eggplant wasn’t bitter, it was tender and melty and cheesy. Cheese makes everything awesome. Ultimately, this seems like it’s lasagna with eggplant instead of noodles and I’m okay with that.

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