Crispy Eggplant Parmesan
Mess Level: Moderate
Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 4 hr
Cook Time: 15 min
For the Eggplant:
- 1 Medium Sized Eggplant (about 1 ½ lb)
- 1 Cup AP Flour
- 4 Eggs
- 2 Cups Bread Crumbs
- Salt to taste
- Chili flakes to taste
- 3 Teaspoons Dried Oregano
- 3 Teaspoons Dried Thyme
- 3 Teaspoons Dried Basil
- Frying Oil (3-4 inches deep)
For the Marinara:
- 3 Cups Crushed Tomatoes
- 2 Medium Cloves Garlic
- Chili Flakes to Taste
- 1 Teaspoon Sugar
- 1 teaspoon each of the above dried herbs
- Salt to taste
- 4-6oz Shredded or Torn Fresh Mozzarella
- 1oz Finely Grated Parmesan (optional)
- Chopped Parsely or Basil for Garnish
Note: For a more classic dish, make extra marinara and really drown the eggplant in step 7. Bake at 350 till bubbly rather than broiling.
- Place a cooling rack on top of a sheet pan. Cut the eggplant into ½ inch rounds and salt on both sides, a bit more salt than what you would want to eat. Place the rounds on the cooling rack and put another sheet pan on top. Weigh down with a couple plates or a lightweight cast iron pan.
- Leave the eggplant for up thirty minutes, and up to two hours, then rinse and pat very dry and refrigerate unless using immediately.
- Make the marinara by grating the cloves of garlic into a cold pan. Have your tomatoes ready. Turn the heat to medium and add a bit of oil. Saute until the garlic is fragrant and add the tomatoes before it browns. Add the remaining marinara ingredients and rinse the tomato can out with a ½ cup of water and add it to the pan. Simmer and stir until the sauce is thick enough to hold a nappe and has developed good flavor. Allow to cool.
- Set out three wide-mouthed bowls and add the flour to one, eggs to another, and breadcrumbs in the third. Season generously with remaining seasoning and taste.
- Coat the eggplant in flour, then egg, then breadcrumb. For a thicker breading, dip in egg and bread crumbs one more time.
- Heat frying oil to 375. Fry the eggplants until golden and crispy, flipping as needed. Set on a cooling rack over a sheet pan to drain and sprinkle lightly with salt if needed.
- Preheat the oven to broil. Spread some marinara on the bottom and put down a layer of eggplant. Repeat the layers and finish with marinara. Add the cheese and broil until hot and bubbly. Garnish with the herbs and serve immediately.
Did You Make It? Tag Us!
- Gluten Free: Yes, simply sub your favorite gluten-free breadcrumbs, flour, and pasta.
- Vegan: Yes, substitute alternative milk for the eggs and use a vegan cream cheese in lieu of mozzarella. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast or vegan parm.
Meal Prep: Follow these steps if you want to prep ahead of time:
- Salt, rinse, dry and store the eggplant ahead of time or you may bread it and freeze the breaded eggplant until ready to use. You may fry the breaded eggplant straight from the freezer. The marinara will be 3x better if made several days in advance as well.
Ramblings of a Line Cook
I worked at a cooking school in Colorado for a bit under an Italian chef. Her food was never more complicated than it needed to be and she was brilliant. During the late summer, she taught a pasta-making class, and while the dough rested, she made everyone chunk up an eggplant, salt it well, and let it sit in a colander over a bowl for 30 minutes.
I preheated the ovens to a ripping 425 Fahrenheit and we scattered the salted eggplant chunks on sheet pans and roasted them until the outsides were lightly crisped and the texture had changed from soggy, to chewy.
The pasta was rolled out and dropped in salted, boiling water and everyone got a pint of sweet cherry tomatoes all to themselves in the peak of their growing season. The tomatoes went into a hot saute pan with a big of garlic and oil and were cooked until they burst and turned into a beautiful sauce.
The roasted eggplant was tossed in and I couldn’t believe how good it was. The flavor was akin to a long-cooked meat sauce. From summer sauces to baba ganoush, to eggplant lasagna, to this lovely eggplant parmesan, I have taken away an important lesson. Always, always salt the eggplant and come back later.