This easy eggplant parmesan is one of our favorite things we’ve made recently. We learned to make a complete eggplant parmesan recipe in Italy (available in this hard to find book). It’s more involved than this, but we’ve taken some of the main principles and made a super easy version that’s quick to pull together with just a few ingredients.
The key to cooking eggplant is salting the slices generously and letting some of the excess moisture drain out. You might think the eggplant would be too salty, but most of the salt ends up in the water that is released. A lot of people don’t like the texture of eggplant, but a lot of that is the wateriness. Browning the slices in peanut oil also helps improve the texture of the finished dish. You can peel the eggplant prior to cooking if you don’t like the skin.
If you have the time, draining your mozzarella will also improve the flavor and texture of this dish. To do this, move the mozzarella from it’s liquid and/or packaging into a dry plastic or glass container, cover, and let sit in the refrigerator overnight. If you do not have time to drain the mozzarella, roll it firmly in a few layers of paper towels to remove as much moisture as you can.
The only other thing you will need for this dish is one batch of our favorite tomato sauce. We use it as the base for a lot of dishes and it’s always perfection.
- In a salad spinner or colander set in a bowl, arrange one layer of eggplant rounds. Liberally salt the rounds. Add another layer of eggplant and salt. Repeat until all of the eggplant is salted. Allow to sit at least 30 minutes. You should notice quite a bit of water accumulating in the bottom of the bowl. When ready to use, press the eggplant gently to remove as much water as possible.
- In a large skillet or cast iron pan, heat about ¼" of peanut oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, lightly brown the eggplant on both sides, working in batches, until all of the eggplant has been browned. Set the slices on a plate with a paper towel to drain any excess oil.
- Add a small amount of tomato sauce to the bottom of a baking dish, then add one layer of eggplant. Spoon a little sauce over the eggplant and top each eggplant slice with a thin slice of mozzarella. Repeat these layers until you have used all the eggplant, then top with any remaining cheese.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until all the sauce is bubbly and the cheese begins to brown on top.
To drain the mozzarella, remove from packaging and place in a dry container (covered) in the refrigerator, preferably overnight.
If you are concerned about using peanut oil due to allergies, we suggest canola oil as an alternative.