Meatless Monday: Baked Eggplant Parmesan


Italian, Main Courses, Meatless / Monday, August 17th, 2009

baked-eggplant-parmesan-2

A few years ago, I was standing in line at the post office behind this guy who was checking out the stamps in the display case. When the postal worker asked him what kind of stamps he wanted, without hesitation, he said, “The ones with Dr. Phil.” And just as I’m thinking, Maybe I can get a set with Oprah’s Best Friend Gayle, I see that the guy’s stamps actually bear the likeness of someone who’d been slightly less powerful than Dr. Phil: President Gerald R. Ford.

In the world of Eggplant Parmesan, fried eggplant is the Dr. Phil. A wholesome veg corrupted by heat and grease until it stops offering life strategies and starts interviewing mothers of grotesquely obese toddlers. Baked Eggplant Parmesan has the same flavors and crunch, without the added fat.

The key is vigilance against sogginess.

First, you wait until the salted eggplant slices release two tablespoons of liquid. Then you press the slices with paper towels. And when you’re ready to layer your spicy tomato sauce, eggplant slices and cheese, you dot the eggplant with sauce (instead of evenly spreading it) so the exposed eggplant stays crisp. So, you get the flavor and texture without all of the extra oil and the ridiculous-but-persistent fear that one day you’ll have to be removed from your house with a crane.

I’m sure I saw that on “Dr. Phil.”

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Adapted from “Cook’s Illustrated”

Serves 6 to 8

    Eggplant:

  • 2 medium eggplant (about 2 pounds) cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan (about 2 ounces)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
    Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and ground pepper
  • 8 ounces whole or part-skim mozzarella, shredded (2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, for garnish
  1. For the Eggplant: In a large bowl, toss half of the eggplant slices and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt; transfer salted eggplant to colander set over bowl. Repeat with remaining eggplant and salt. Let stand until eggplant releases about 2 tablespoons liquid, 30 to 45 minutes. Arrange eggplant slices on a triple layer of paper towels; cover with a triple layer of paper towels. Firmly press each slice to remove as much liquid as possible, then wipe off excess salt.
  2. While eggplant is draining, adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-thirds of the oven, place rimmed baking sheets on both racks, and heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. In a pie plate or shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Combine flour and 1 teaspoon pepper in large zipper-lock bag; shake to combine. Beat eggs in second pie plate. Place 8 to 10 eggplant slices in bag with flour, dip in eggs, let excess egg run off, then coat evenly with breadcrumb mixture. Set breaded slices on wire rack set over baking sheet. Repeat with remaining eggplant.
  5. Remove preheated baking sheets from oven; add 3 tablespoons oil to each sheet, tilting to coat evenly with oil. Place half of breaded eggplant on each sheet in single layer; bake until eggplant is well browned and crisp, about 30 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets after 10 minutes, and flipping eggplant slices with wide spatula after 20 minutes. Do not turn off oven.
  6. For the Sauce: While eggplant bakes, process 1 can diced tomatoes in food processor or blender until almost smooth. Heat olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is light golden, about 3 minutes; stir in processed and remaining can of tomatoes. Bring sauce to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened and reduced, about 15 minutes. Stir in basil and season to taste.
  7. To Assemble: Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in bottom of 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Layer in half of eggplant slices, overlapping slices to fit; distribute 1 cup sauce over eggplant; sprinkle with half of mozzarella. Layer in remaining eggplant and dot with 1 cup sauce, leaving majority of eggplant exposed so it will remain crisp. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan and remaining mozzarella. Bake until bubbling and cheese is browned, 13 to 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, scatter basil over top, and serve, passing remaining tomato sauce separately.

30 thoughts on “Meatless Monday: Baked Eggplant Parmesan

  1. Incredible photo, and too, too funny. I do not eat eggplant, but this would make me try again. See where Jeff got his food pickiness from?

  2. I am a new reader of your blog but I am HOOKED! Your recipes are delicious, photography is beautiful and your wit and humor and a delight! Thanks so much for sharing!! :)

  3. I JUST made this recipe, too, with CSA eggplant, but haven't published the blog post about it yet. Your photo looks much better than mine. ;)

    I found the breading to be way too heavy and the recipe to dirty too many dishes, but we enjoyed eating it.

  4. O.B.F.G. used to be the local newscaster when I lived in Connecticut, so I'm always amused by her new job title. I love Eggplant Parmesan, but I don't make it anymore because of eggplant's absorptiveness (is that even a word?) So I appeeciate these hints and I can't wait to try this!
    Audrey

  5. You had me at "…..Oprah’s Best Friend Gayle™".
    You had me at "…™"
    LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!
    You are so HILARIOUS.
    Back to eggplants, I read a tip from somewhere about adding a layer of breadcrumbs on the eggplants before baking, to help sop up some of the juice…;-)

  6. I'm so creeped out right now because as I was reading the first paragraph a Dr. Phil commercial came on. I kid you not. :|

    That aside, this look delicious!!

  7. Your dish looks great. Eggplant Parmesan is my favorite dish when I go to Italian restaurants. And Cook's Illustrated is favorite source for recipes. Good Job!

  8. I love egg parm. What a great picture. I can not stand Dr. Phil, but I totally dig egg parm. My hubby HATES it, so it never gets made in this house. For now, I will just salivate over yours.

  9. we just tried eggplant out on the boys last week and it got an enormouse THUMBS DOWN with an "Are you mad at us?" But this might bring thme back around. Being thoroughly southern i believe that you introduce children to new vegetables by deep frying them, however we grilled the eggplant. This might cover it up enough to sneak it in and try again.

  10. I'm not usually massive on eggplant but I have to say this looks great. I might venture into the unknown and give it a try!

    Andrew

  11. Oh man, does that ever look good and I adore CI recipes so I've got to try this one! Funny post – you're always so entertaining and I love coming to read your blog :)

  12. I love eggplant parm. I usually make a batch & freeze it , in small containers. My husband doesn't like it, but I make just enough for me. He get's chicken from the deli.

  13. […] Blogga gives a lesson in Eggplant 101 – how to select, store and cook them. You could give this baked eggplant parmesan from Ezra Pound Cake a try or my favourite from my own archives- Lebanese eggplant […]

  14. yay! thanks for posting this! the hubs and i were just talking about finding a baked eggplant parm recipe and now i don't have to search any longer!

  15. I made this recipe last night. It look beautiful and tasted yummy. I baked it in a pasta dish. Next time I will use a SILPAT on the cookie sheets to bake the eggplant instead of oil (not that it tasted oily, I just want to reduce the fat). I also want more tomato sauce. I left my sauce a bit chunky and used shallots instead of garlic. I just do not like the taste of garlic. Thanks for the good recipe.

  16. Hi, I made this eggplant parm this afternoon. It is very very good! My husband said it was the best eggplant parm he's ever had! :) I used two 9X13 glass casserole dishes lined with tin foil instead of pans, so clean-up was a snap, plus I re-used one of the dishes to bake the eggplant for the second round in the oven. I also used whole wheat panko breadcrumbs as they were all I had. Very yummy. BTW, I found your blog on TasteSpotting, which is my first stop for recipes these days! Love your photos too! Thanks for the recipe!

  17. Funnier than heck, stamps and postal clerks! Here is my tip – if you like crunchy eggplant parm. Cut slices thick, do not peel, do not sweat. Dip in scrambled egg, coat with bread crumbs, broil until dark, do both sides. Follow same recipe, place mozarella first then dabs of spicy seasoned tomato sauce, and make as many layers as you have eggplant. Top cheese or remaining bread crumbs. We likes em crunchy – even plain.

  18. Made this for dinner tonight; my husband and I loved it. Subbed in my own homemade marinara (I'm slightly partial) and we couldn't get enough of the whole dish. Thanks for the detailed instructions, everything turned out perfectly!

  19. I just picked up some eggplant at the store and knew you'd have a fantastic recipe for me to follow! I've been following your blog for a few months now and have enjoyed reading about your Meatless Monday adventures!

  20. […] had in turn taken the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, The New Best Recipe, as seen on Ezra Pound Cake. So the recipe is making the rounds on the blogsphere, and for good reason.  It is the only way to […]

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