Dark Days Comfort Food: Egg Plant Parm
One night last week, while in D.C., I had a little slice of one of the most scrumptious eggplant parmesans I’ve ever tasted. And every night since then, I’ve been craving more.
This one isn’t just like that one — I didn’t even try to mimic their recipe — but I dare say it’s a wee bit better. It’s got more bite, deeper flavor, and one page I did take from their book — slicing the eggplant nice and thin, thin, thin — worked like a charm.
It isn’t the quickest week night recipe in the world, if you weren’t taking photos of every other step of the process it would probably take twenty to thirty minutes of active prep time and another fifty to bake and cool the assembled parm before serving, but it’s one of few longer-running recipes I’ve tried that I would say is well worth the time invested — even for a Wednesday night.
So, gather up all your ingredients — there’s a full list in the handy dandy recipe plugin I’ve added at the bottom of this post — and let’s get started.
Remember: we’re cooking, not baking. Which means recipes are mere suggestions. Substitutions and tweaks are the name of the game. If you don’t like spice, omit most or all of the red pepper flakes, if you can’t find fresh mozzarella in oil and herbs just use plain fresh mozz, or plain mozz altogether. I made this thing up by the seat of my pants on a whim, using what I had — cough Fire Roasted Pizza Sauce cough — you probably can’t mess it up.
I don’t like long, drawn out ingredients lists so I tried to keep it simple. Eggplant, eggs, tomatoes, onion, a small jar of pizza pasta sauce, mozzarella, flour and spices. It’s not all pictured here, but you get the idea. The only thing even remotely resembling a rule I’m going to throw your way is to buy good tomatoes. They’re well worth the few extra cents over the bargain brands and make all the difference in your recipes. Normally I’d used home canned but the garden was largely a bust this past season. These are the next best thing I’ve found.
Slice up your onion and eggplant. You want your eggplant slices nice and thin. These are closer to a quarter inch, than a half. The thinner they are, the more they absorb the flavors of the spices and sauce and the more palatable they are to picky eaters like The Man. (He actually loved this dinner when it was done, which I hadn’t expected at all.)
Beat eggs in a shallow bowl, and combine flour with spices in another. Dip each eggplant slice first in the egg and then in the flour and spice mixture. Set aside.
Drain a few tablespoons of oil off the mozzarella into a large skillet and heat over medium-high. Caramelize onions first, setting aside on a paper towel to drain when done, and then fry each eggplant slice until golden brown, 1-2 minutes per side.
While waiting for slices to cook preheat oven to 400 degrees, cut mozzarella balls into thirds, and combine drained tomatoes and sauce in a bowl, using your hands to gently break up the tomatoes.
Once all the eggplant slices have been browned, ladle a small amount of sauce into the bottom of a deep loaf pan to prevent sticking and then begin layering ingredients. Begin with eggplant, overlapping slices where needed. Add sauce and then cheese, alternating between mozzarella on one layer and parmesan on the next. Sprinkle onions on each layer as you go.
Be sure to reserve both cheese and onions for the top layer. Once assembled, bake for 30-40 minutes until bubbling and cheese on top has begun to brown.
Cool 10-15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
- 2 Medium Eggplants
- ½ Medium Onion
- 4 Eggs
- 1 Cup Flour
- 1½ tsp Red Pepper Flakes
- 2 tsp Granulated Garlic
- 1 tsp Cracked Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Course Ground Sea Salt
- 1 tsp Oregano
- 1 tsp Basil
- 1 Jar Fire Roasted Pasta or Pizza Sauce
- 1 Can Whole Tomatoes, Drained
- 1 Cup Grated Parmesan
- 1 Tub Fresh Mozzarella in Oil and Herbs
- Slice Onion into thin strips. Set aside.
- Trim both ends from eggplants and steady on cutting board. Using a chef’s knife, cut ¼ to ½ inch slices, running the full length of each.
- Crack all four eggs in shallow dish and beat well.
- In a second shallow dish, combine flour and spices with a fork until well mixed.
- Dip each eggplant slice first in egg and then dredge in flour and spice mixture to coat. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Drain a few tablespoons of the oil from the mozzarella into a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat until it splatters when you flick a bit of water into the pan. Caramelize onions first, then set aside to drain on paper towels while you fry each slice of eggplant until golden brown, 1-2 minutes per side, in the same pan.
- While waiting for onions and eggplants to brown combine sauce and tomatoes in a bowl, using your hands to gently crush the tomatoes and mix well.
- Slice fresh mozzarella balls into thirds during this time as well.
- Once all eggplant slices and onions have been browned, ladle a small amount of sauce into the bottom of a large loaf pan to prevent sticking and begin layering ingredients. Add a layer of eggplant slices, overlapping them as needed to fully cover the sauce below. Alternate adding mozzarella and parmesan between every other layer of eggplant as you go and sprinkling each with onions.
- Reserve a small amount of both cheeses and a few onions to garnish the top.
- Bake 30-40 minutes until bubbly and cheese has begun to brown. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.