Bad preparations of eggplant are everywhere and as a vegetarian they are sometimes the only option. Pro tip to anyone planning an event ever: no vegetarians like slimy cold eggplant wraps, we have taste buds, too!
But eggplant doesn’t have to suck. I was craving eggplant Parmesan after we picked up our CSA today and put together this eggplant parm in about 45 minutes.
Serves 4 as a side dish with pasta
- 2 small Italian eggplants or one medium-large eggplant
- 1/2 jar pasta sauce (8 oz)
- 6 oz fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces or cubed
- 2 oz Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- canola oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the eggplant into rounds about 1/2-inch thick. Heat your largest pan on the stove over medium heat with about 1/8-inch of oil in the bottom. Once the oil is hot add a single layer of eggplant slices to the pan, season with salt and pepper. Allow the eggplant to cook with minimal disturbance for about 6-7 minutes. Check the slices and flip when the eggplant is brown on the bottom. If the eggplant is not brown cook a few minutes longer. If the eggplant looks dry you may need to add a little more oil. Continue to cook after flipping until the other side has also browned. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat until all the eggplant slices are cooked. Only cook one layer of eggplant at a time. You will probably need to add additional oil between batches.
Spoon enough pasta sauce into the bottom of a 2 quart casserole dish to lightly coat the bottom. Arrange a layer of eggplant slices over the sauce. Spread a layer of sauce over the slices, then sprinkle with one third of the mozzarella cheese. Add two more similar layers of eggplant, sauce and cheese, ending with cheese on top. Sprinkle the Parmesan on the top of the dish then top with breadcrumbs.
Cover the dish and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. If you are planning to serve this with
pasta, get your pasta started about now. After 15 minutes, remove the lid and broil for 3-4 minutes. Keep a close eye on the dish to make sure that the breadcrumbs don’t burn. The cheese and bread crumbs will brown and the sauce will bubble. Remove from the oven and serve with pasta.