Monday, June 20, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan is almost always what I order at Italian restaurants but it's not always great. Sometimes the eggplant is soggy, sometimes it's overbreaded and sometimes it's bitter. One of my favorite versions is from Just Dinner in Houston, Texas. After devouring it one night, the chef came by our table and I asked him what his secret was to his crispy and tender eggplant. He explained to me that eggplants actually have genders and proceeded to draw a picture of a "male" vs. a "female" eggplant on our table, which conveniently had some butcher paper on top. Female eggplants apparently have more seeds, which make them bitter. What you want to look for is a male eggplant. The difference? The males have a small round dot on the bottom and the females have a more oblong shape. I'll let you figure out a trick to remembering that. Meanwhile, here's a great blog post on the topic.

So, in an attempt to recreate my beloved eggplant parmesan at home, I found a recipe with great potential on the Arugula Files blog. If anyone can make a good eggplant parmesan, Uncle Sonny looks like the man for the job. I've made a couple of changes and am really happy with the result. It's great that I don't have to fry the eggplant too - it makes the dish a lot lighter. And don't forget about the genders - you'll never find a female eggplant in my kitchen.

Time: 1 and 1/2 hours
Serves: 2-4

  • 1 medium-sized, male eggplant 
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan or romano cheese
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  1. Peel your eggplant by slicing off the skin with a knife. Don't worry about being too exact. Chances are, you'll still have more than enough eggplant to go around.
  2. Now you want to slice your eggplant thinly. To do this, you'll want to create a flat end on your eggplant so you can stand it up as you slice.
  3. As you slice the eggplant, add it to a large bowl of cold water. Let soak for 20 minutes or so.
  4. Preheat your oven to 400 with one rack in the bottom third of the oven and the other in the top third.
  5. Drain the eggplant and dry on a dish towel or paper towels.
  6. Wipe and dry your bowl and add 3 eggs plus 1 TBSP of water.
  7. Beat the eggs and water (this is called eggwash) with a fork and add the eggplant, tossing it around with your hands to coat.
  8. In a large ziploc, add 1 cup of breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup parmesan or romano cheese, 1/2 tsp oregano and 1 tsp salt and pepper. Shake around to mix this up.
  9. Cover 2 baking sheets with foil and drizzle with 3-4 TBSP olive oil.
  10. Add your eggplant to the ziploc bag, letting the excess egg drip off into the bowl.
  11. Shake the bag around until all of the eggplant is coated in breadcrumbs.
  12. Add your coated eggplant to the baking sheets and drizzle a little more oil on top.

  1. Bake your eggplant in the oven for about 10 minutes, switching the position of your baking sheets halfway through. You want the eggplant to be slightly browned and crispy.
  2. Pull out your baking sheets and set aside.
  3. Cover the bottom of a casserole dish with your marinara sauce.
  4. Make a layer of eggplant slices on top of the sauce.
  5. Add another layer of sauce and repeat, ending with sauce and then the cheese. Be sure to spread out the sauce as you go along so it covers the whole surface.
  6. Put the finished casserole dish into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes. If you're pressed for time, you can actually cook for 15 minutes, then turn the oven to broil for 5 minutes to brown the cheese. The version you see here used the short bake and broil method.
  7. Serve with pasta, tossed in the leftover sauce.


  1. This looks decisious!!!! Can't wait to make it.

  2. thanks Simple Mom and Team Trevino! this is definitely a favorite at our house :)