Saturday, September 13, 2014

Crispy Eggplant Parmesan

Despite the unusual growing season, our eggplants produced decent fruit this year. While we occasionally grill or saute eggplant, one of my favorite ways to prepare this vegetable is in eggplant parmesan. 

I know this is not the traditional way of preparing eggplant parmesan. Rather than layering the veg between marinara sauce, I prefer to serve most of the sauce as an accompaniment on the side. That way, I preserve the light, crispy coating.

Wash eggplant and cut into 1/2 inch thick round slices.

Place slices in a colander, sprinkle with salt and let drain for 5 minutes.

Coat slices by dredging in flour, then egg/milk mixture, then panko/cheese. Place on a rack.
When all slices are coated. Heat the marinara. I had leftover tomatoes from
the previous day's canning. I sauteed onions and added fresh garlic, basil, oregano, rosemary, salt, pepper and pinch of sugar to a quart of chopped skinned tomatoes (I made more sauce than the recipe required).
Heat oil to 350 degrees and fry eggplant slices for 2 minutes on each side.
Remove to a wire rack until all slices are cooked.
If you're serving with pasta, boil the pasta water.
When all the slices are cooked, spread a thin layer of sauce over the
bottom of a baking dish. Shingle the eggplant in a single layer on top of the sauce.
Sprinkle with mozzarella.
Place under broiler for 5-7 minutes until cheese is bubbly and brown.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta.
Serve with pasta and additional sauce.

Eggplant Parmesan
Adapted from
24 1/2-inch thick round slices of eggplant
Kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups panko (I like whole grain panko)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Oil for frying (I used peanut oil)
1 1/2 cups warm marinara sauce plus more for serving (jarred or homemade)
8 oz shredded mozzarella.

Position a rack in middle of the oven and heat the broiler to low. Place the eggplant slices in a colander set in the sink or over a bowl, sprinkle generously with salt, toss to combine, and set aside to drain for about 5 minutes.

Place the flour in a wide, shallow dish and season generously with salt and pepper. Combine the eggs and milk in another shallow dish and set aside; mix the panko and cheese together in a third shallow dish. 
Remove the eggplant slices from the colander and pat dry with paper towels. Bread the eggplant by coating a few slices in the flour mixture. Shake off any excess flour, dip the slices into the egg mixture, and press them into the panko mixture; be sure to coat the slices thoroughly at each step. Set the breaded eggplant on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining slices.

Line another baking sheet with paper towels and set a wire rack over the towels; set aside. Fill a large, straight-sided skillet or frying pan with 1 inch of the olive oil. Heat over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 350°F on a deep-fat thermometer (the oil should be shimmering but not smoking). Add about a third of the eggplant slices and fry on one side until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip and fry the other side for another 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to the wire rack and repeat with the remaining eggplant.

Pour the warmed tomato sauce over the bottom of an 8-by-8-inch baking dish. Shingle eggplant slices, over the tomato sauce. Top with cheese. 
Place in the oven and broil until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and speckled with gold, about 5 to 7 minutes. Serve immediately with extra tomato sauce on the side.

Note: Instead of pasta, focaccia would also make a great accompaniment to this dish.

How do you prepare your eggplant?

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  1. Wow these look great! Can't wait to try this.

    1. I like this recipe because the eggplant stays crispy. I even thought about serving up the eggplant slices with a side of red sauce for dipping (maybe for a tailgate?) - sort of a deconstructed eggplant parm. Let me know how yours turns out!