Lots of really good looking eggplant in the market these days, In the past, I’ve followed two methods for prepping the eggplant for Eggplant Parmesan. I’ve recently discovered a third approach in Lidia Bastianich’s Lidia’s Italy in America. I’m not going to promote it as the best approach, as good as it is, just a different one.
Method One: Peel the eggplant and cut it into half inch slices. Spread on a half sheet pan. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 375 until soft. About 15 minutes.
Method Two: Peel the eggplant; cut it into half inch slices. Dip in an egg wash and then into Italian bread crumbs. Fry in olive oil until crispy on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
Method Three: Peel the eggplant and cut it into slices. Dip in flour, then an egg wash, then into a mixture of bread crumbs, grated Parmesan cheese and olive oil. Press the damp crumbs in to make sure they stick. Put the slices on a parchment paper lined sheet pan. Bake at 375 for approximately 25 minutes until cooked through and golden. If you want to check out the whole recipe, you’ll find it under Eggplant Parmigiana in Lidia’s Italy in America.
All three methods have advantages. Method One is light and you can really taste the eggplant. Method Two is traditional and probably the best, but you have to deal with the mess of frying. Method Three eliminates the frying, but uses the oil up front to moisten the crumbs.
Once your eggplant is prepped using any of the above methods, you just have to layer it with sauce and shredded mozzarella. Sprinkle some grated Parmesan on the top and bake it at 350 for approximately 50 minutes.
Doesn’t get much better than Eggplant Parm!
I never ate eggplant living in the South, but I soon acquired a taste for it when my mother in law taught me how to cook it. I remember questioning her as she told me after slicing to sprinkle with salt to draw the juice out, better for it to be drier when frying. She always peeled it and sliced thin. She would flour them before dredging back in a mixture of egg and parmesisn cheese, then frying. I began not using the cheese with the egg as it made me use so many eggs, I’d sprinkle cheese on them as I made the eggplant parmesisn later. I usually don’t use bread crumbs as it’s heavier that way, but it’s tasty any way you like to prepare. Now I have a desire to cook eggplant!
I never had eggplant as a child either. Love it now!