As an Italian American, eating eggplant parmesan is as natural and frequent as breathing. This classic Italian dish might as well flow out of our sink faucets—that’s how much consumption occurs. This version, like many of my recipes, is my take, based on all the recipes I grew up eating, most of which called for eggplant dredged in breadcrumbs, then fried up. I find breadcrumbs to be a bit heavy and grainy when they are smothered in all that marinara and cheese, so instead, I fry mine in a mix of egg and flour, which makes them super light and crunchy. I always fry some extra eggplant to snack on while making my parm, and that, my friend, is my hottest tip.Print
What You’ll Need
- 2 large globe eggplants
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for frying
- 4 cups Grossy’s Marinara (page 153) or store-bought marinara
- 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 16 ounces mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
- Garlic bread, for serving (optional)
What You’ll Do
- First, we need to sweat the eggplant. Trust the process, ignore the name. Line a rimmed sheet pan with paper towels and have more paper towels at the ready. Slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch-thic rounds and arrange a single layer of rounds on the towels. Salt both sides of the rounds, then add another layer of paper towels on top of them. Repeat with the remaining eggplant rounds until all are salted and tucked into bed, finishing with a layer of paper towels.
- Place a second sheet pan on top of your layered eggplant slices, then place some heavy books or a skillet on top. This forces out excess water from the eggplant, preventing soggy eggplant parm. Leave your eggplant to sweat for at least 20 minutes or up to 1 hour. If you do it right, the paper towels will be totally wet when you pull off the layers. When the eggplant is done sweating, pat every piece completely dry with fresh paper towels and stack the rounds. Wipe the rimmed sheet pan dry and line it with fresh paper towels.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Meanwhile, set up your dredging station. Place the flour in one shallow bowl and beat the eggs in a second shallow bowl.
- Keeping one hand dry and letting the other get wet, drag one piece of eggplant through the flour, shaking off any excess. Dredge it in the eggs, letting any excess drip off. Then place it back in the flour mixture, gently pressing to adhere an even layer of flour all over and letting any excess fall away. Place the coated eggplant on a large plate and repeat with 3 or 4 more slices until the plate is full.
- In a large oven-safe skillet, heat a 1/4-inch layer of olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, use tongs to add the coated eggplant, taking care not to crowd the skillet. Cook until the outside is crisp and golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. (Remember, the eggplant does not cook fully here.) Transfer the fried eggplant to the prepared sheet pan.
- Repeat the dredging and crisping, wiping out the skillet and heating fresh oil between each batch.
- Wipe the skillet completely clean, then spread 1 cup of the marinara over the bottom. Add a single layer of eggplant, followed by another cup of the sauce, 2/3 cup Parmesan, and about a third of the mozzarella. Repeat this layering two more times, using up the remaining eggplant, marinara, Parmesan, and mozzarella. Clean and dry the rimmed sheet pan, then place the skillet on top and slide into the oven.
- Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and browned. Serve warm, ideally with some hunks of garlic bread, if you like.
Make It Step By Step With Me:
1. Grab your eggplants and tell them you have big plans for them!
2. Slice your eggplants into ¼ to ½” thick rounds.
3. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Salt both sides of the eggplant rounds with kosher salt.
4. Layer your rounds, with paper towels in between, until all are salted and tucked into bed.
5. Place a second baking sheet on top of your layered eggplant slices, then add some heavy books on top. What we are doing here is sweating excess water from the eggplant, which will prevent soggy Eggplant Parmesan. The salt draws the water out of the eggplant, and the weight of the books helps that happen.
Leave your eggplant to sweat for at least 20 minutes. You can go as long as you like. The paper towels should be nice and wet when you are done.
6. Once your eggplant is done sweating, set up your dredging station. Fill one bowl with flour and one bowl with scrambled eggs. Depending on the amount of eggplant you are making, you will maybe need to add more as you go here, which is part of the fun.
7. I dredge all of my eggplant in one run as it makes frying them easier. If you have a kitchen pal, you can tag-team, which is fun too.
Here is the VERY IMPORTANT dredging order:
- Flour, again
Per usual, we don’t seek perfection here. Just have fun, make a mess, and dredge with all your heart.
8. Heat up a thin layer of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. You can use any neutral oil here as well.
9. Fry your eggplant on each side for a few minutes, until crisp and brown. Remember, you are not cooking the eggplant fully here, that will happen in the oven. You just want a nice crisp on the outside.
You may have to swap your oil a few times, and the flour/egg mixture can burn in the oil. This is why we use a thin layer of oil. You can (carefully) wipe the oil out of the pan with a paper towel and keep going with fresh oil.
This is the trickiest part of the recipe, but I promise you no matter how lightly fried or deeply burnt your eggplant may end up, it will still be delicious in the end!
10. Place your crisped eggplant on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Fry until completion.
11. Grab your eggplant, marinara, grated parmesan and mozzarella slices. Select your baking dish by eyeballing how much eggplant you have and how big of a dish you may need (on this day, I used a nice deep oven safe skillet). You can absolutely use whatever you like, and you can even use a couple of pans! Sometimes I like to use two and freeze one for later. Eggplant Parmesan is a lovely dish to defrost and bake—it really holds up!
12. Now we start to layer, and that means a bit of marinara on the bottom to get things going!
13. Eggplant comes next, nice and cozy.
14. Another nice layer of marinara.
15. Toss on some parmesan cheese and mozzarella slices.
16. Add another layer of eggplant, followed by sauce and cheeses. Keep going until you run out of eggplant. I usually will gently push things down into the pan to make room for the extra last layer!
17. Top off your last layer with a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese. And now she’s ready for the oven.
Bake, uncovered, at 350º for at least 45 minutes. You can keep going until the top is as dark and crispy as you like.
18. She’s gorgeous! Serve warm out of the oven, and don’t forget to have some bread nearby for sopping up and dipping!