Eggplant Parmesan

By • August 31, 2009 • 87 Comments

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Author Notes: This is my Nonna's recipe and most of the ingredients came from her beloved garden. She used to fry the eggplant in egg and flour, but I only use flour and fry them on baking sheets in a hot oven. I always thought the egg batter soaked up too much of the sauce. My version makes it lighter and creamier and you use a lot less oil.Nancy Jo

Food52 Review: All of the cooking here is centered around getting the eggplant and tomatoes to the right texture so that when you fuse them, neither the sauce is watery nor the eggplant soggy. Nancy Jo accomplishes this by baking slabs of flour-dusted eggplant in the oven with just a trace of oil. They come out as stiff as cards. And the tomatoes are cooked down in the pan until pulpy. When the two meet in a baking dish, the eggplant soaks up some tomato juices but retains its own character so you get distinct layers. And Nancy Jo adds the mozzarella as a center layer, so you get the warm melted cheese right in the belly of the dish. Use fresh mozzarella, which is creamy and even a little sweet. - A&MA&M

Serves 6

Eggplant

  • 3 pounds eggplant (Choose the large variety. Make sure they are firm and smooth. Also, choose male eggplants. They have fewer seeds and have a rounder, smoother bottom)
  • 1 cup flour
  • salt
  • generous amounts of olive oil
  • 1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
  • 1/2 pound buffalo-milk mozzarella (if the balls are small, get two)

Sauce

  • 2 28 ounces cans of San Marzano (any brand is fine) canned whole peeled tomatoes (add another can if you want extra sauce left over)
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • enough olive oil to cover the pan
  1. Peel the eggplant and slice long ways into 1/4 inch slices.
  2. Sprinkle each layer with salt and place into a colander, overlapping and salting as you go. Each slice should be salted. After you fill the colander, place a plate on top and weight it with a heavy pan or a tea kettle filled with water. Let the eggplant sweat for 30 minutes or more.
  3. While the eggplant sweats, make the sauce.
  4. Cover the bottom of a sauce pan with olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Add the sliced garlic and let it cook until is sizzles (do not brown the garlic). Add the canned whole tomatoes and their juice and salt. Stir and chop coarsely using a potato masher or two knives chopping crossways. Lower the heat and simmer until reduced by almost half.
  5. Remove the eggplant fro the colander and thoroughly pat dry each slice.
  6. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Cover the bottom of a baking sheet or two with olive oil.
  7. Dredge the eggplant slices in flour, shaking off any excess. Place on the baking sheets and drizzle the each slice with olive oil. Bake until brown on one side (about 15 minutes or so) and tun over and brown the other side. Repeat until you have cooked all the eggplant.
  8. Using a 7x11 baking dish (I like ceramic or earthenware, but you can use stainless steel as well), spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom and layer the eggplant until it completely covers the bottom (it's like a puzzle!).
  9. Sprinkle generously with the grated parmigiano-reggiano. Add another layer of sauce and then the eggplant. Continue to build the layers until you are about two layers from the top, then add a single layer of sliced mozzarella. Finish with a couple more layers of eggplant, sauce, and parmesan. Finish the top with parmesan.
  10. Bake on the upper third of a 400 degree oven. Check it after it's been in the oven for 20 minutes. You may find that it throws off more liquid as it bakes. If so, press down on the eggplant and draw off any excess liquid. Cook for another 15 minutes or so. Let stand for a good 15 or 20 minutes before serving.
Jump to Comments (87)

Tags: eggplant, parmesan, serves a crowd

Comments (87) Questions (7)

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4 days ago Kip Kiener

I have found an easier way to cook the eggplant. I place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and spray it with olive oil or a cooking spray, place the eggplant on the sheet and a light layer of spray on them. Both sides get done evenly and no flipping. I also encrust them with some planko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. If you get lazy you can just eat them like that and blow off the sauce.

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5 days ago karen

do I need to rinse the eggplant after salting it ?

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5 days ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

Read Step 5#. I didn't rinse when I made the dish.

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15 days ago Somia

Oh my! Made this for dinner last night using fresh eggplant and tomatoes from the local farm stand. My teen daughter's last words before bedtime to me were "epic dinner - I am dreaming of it already - I want to have dinner all over again even though I am not hungry"! Absolutely delicious and can be made from scratch on a weeknight. Can not recommend it enough!

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20 days ago Jolie

Delicious. Made this and subbed out flour for buckwheat flour to make it gluten free. Everyone loved it. Added a little oregano and basil to the sauce in lieu of salt. What a gorgeous and simple recipe! Thank you.

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about 1 month ago Tundrah

Wow. This is excellent. Eyeballed myself amounts for a single serving. Made the sauce half from heirlooms and half canned. Skipped seasoning sauce w salt due to others comments. Printing this one out for the recipe book--it's a keeper!

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about 1 month ago AlainaMK

This recipe is a staple at my house, and one of my (very picky) husband's all-time favorites. He grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Jersey and says this dish rivals that of his best friend's grandmother...I'll take it! Although a bit time-consuming, sweating the eggplant makes all the difference. This recipe is worth every minute, and leftovers (if you have any) are excellent as a sandwich on a French roll.

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5 months ago o.lechow

this was a total hit! never thought of baking the eggplant slices with flour in the oven….totally worked- delicious! Thank you to Nonna!

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6 months ago lpcooks

I had the same problem as others with this being too salty. I think its important to salt the eggplant because it draws out the water so I solved the problem by really under salting the tomato sauce and it came out delicious.

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6 months ago marymary

Tried this today and it's so easy! I just took my first bite and it's awesome, although salty for my taste. I'm cleaning out my fridge today and had to substitute prosciutto panino for the buffalo mozzarella. Very good sub! I will definitely make this again (and again), but won't salt the eggplant. I'll also be serving the crispy, oven-browned eggplant dusted with parmesan as an appetizer / side dish with other dinners. Thanks for sharing!

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6 months ago kimberly.godwin

Cooking the eggplant like that was sooooo good, I may just eat more eggplant and cook it that way as dish all by itself. It gets crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. It really was delicious.

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8 months ago Robin

How would you freeze this so it could be made ahead?

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8 months ago Nancy Jo

I would cook it and let it chill completely then freeze

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12 months ago Helens

I adapted this recipe into courgette parmesan this eve, since that's what I had in stock. I added a quartered onion to the tomato sauce, half of which I then chopped up and added to the bottom layer of sauce. I also only did one layer of courgette, since it was onl to serve 2 people, and everyone loves crispy bits. My final layering was sauce+onions, mozz. + parmesan, seasoning, courgette, seasoning, sauce, cheese. It was delicious.

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12 months ago Laurenzim

This dish is AMAZING!!!! I can't believe how much flavor it has!!! Thanks!!!!!!

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12 months ago mlsparks

I made this over the weekend, and it was simply fabulous. My boyfriend who normally likes "meat" in dishes, said, "Is there meat in this? This is fantastic, it doesn't even need meat!". It will definitely go into my rotation. So amazing.

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about 1 year ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

I made this for the first time two days ago and have heard raves since! It was my first time making eggplant parmesan (not an eggplant fan) and followed the directions exactly, except I used my own sauce. Brilliant!

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about 1 year ago Marisa-Makes

Honestly the best Eggplant Parmesan I've ever made....possibly even eaten. I made a homemade sauce with garden tomatoes and it was wonderful. Make this recipe!

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about 1 year ago Jerry Kelleher

Hi. I use eggplant, or aubergines as we call them here in Europe, many dishes. I never bother to salt them -- life too short! I slice them half inch thick and give them a dash of olive oil. I bake the at 400F for about 30 mins, turning once. I pop them in a dish, add some good olive oil and leave them in the fridge until needed. It really speeds up prep time. By the way they form the basis for Robert Carrier's wonderful vegetarian lasagne, a recipe that I would be happy to share. JerryK.

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about 1 year ago Natalie Bullion

Oh my gosh. I do not like eggplant, and this is THE BEST THING I've eaten from the garden this summer. Followed the recipe exactly. Yum.

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about 1 year ago MariahK

Best eggplant parm ever! I don't really like eggplant but I had vegetarian friends coming over for dinner so I gave it a try. I didn't find it too salty and I salted the slices heavily, sweated a half hour or so and pressed them dry on a dish towel. Then I did it all again because I really don't like eggplant and wanted to make sure not a trace of bitterness remained. I ended up with the crispiest eggplant slices out of the oven that I ate a few of them plain and loved them! I didn't salt the sauce and added some dried herbs but otherwise made as directed. The finished dish was wonderful and everyone at dinner thought so too.

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about 1 year ago The Fiery Epicurean

This was the first year I planted eggplant and I printed off this recipe a few months back knowing that I'd have an obedience of eggplants soon enough. Although this recipe took a while to prepare and bake, it was delicious. I've never made eggplant parmesan where you bake the eggplant prior to assembling the dish, so brilliant! Even my toddler enjoyed this dish, even if I told a little white lie and said it was pasta with cheese! Hey a Mom has to do what she has to do to get vegetables consumed! Thank you for a marvelous recipe!

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about 1 year ago The Fiery Epicurean

One more thing I forgot to mention. I didn't use can tomatoes, rather had a ton of fresh from the garden, so blanched them and used them instead. Added a little dried herb salt to the sauce too.

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about 1 year ago AndreaHD

Love the phrase "obedience of eggplants." Sounds like this recipe is designed to make them fall right in line!

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about 1 year ago Muttersome

I made this and it was amazing. If anyone makes this and has leftovers, do yourselves a favor: boil some spaghetti, chop up a big piece of the leftover eggplant parm into bits, and use it as a rustic, chunky sauce. It is incredible...especially with some cheese melted over it.

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about 1 year ago sfielding

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes! I've already made it 3 times. :)

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about 1 year ago Nancy Jo

I'm thrilled that so many of you are enjoying this recipe. I wanted to post an update on the prep. The last 2 times I made it I didn't salt the eggplant! It worked beautifully without the extra step. The high oven temp helps. Nancy Jo

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about 1 year ago thefood

so seriously delicious!
perfect method, will never make eggplant in a baked dish any other way again!
i love salt, so i can understand why people thought the dish is salty, however instead of just dabbing the eggplant before putting into the oven i really gave them a serious blot session which definitely helped.
bravo on this one!

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over 1 year ago Chris Moore

Correction: using almond flour for regular flour

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over 1 year ago Chris Moore

I made this recipe, using regular flour for almond flour (only substitution)... it was the best eggplant parmesan I've had. So good.

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over 1 year ago Aliwaks

Making this right now, albeit with inferior mozzerella, I'm excited have been searching for ways to make an eggplany parm without frying.

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almost 2 years ago sarahmina

This is the second time I have made this dish. Today, in the wake of Sandy, I made it for friends. And it was awesome. I'm super sensitive to salt and have not thought that this is oversalted, BUT, I think that this is because you need to really blot the eggplant after it has been in the colander, to remove excess water and salt. Also, you don't have to douse the slices in salt, just sprinkle each layer. If you're worried about the salt, leave your tomato sauce relatively salt-less, and rely on the cheese to provide what it needs. It's so good--exactly what some Brooklyn folks need as we're recovering.

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almost 2 years ago sarahmina

This is the second time I have made this dish. Today, in the wake of Sandy, I made it for friends. And it was awesome. I'm super sensitive to salt and have not thought that this is oversalted, BUT, I think that this is because you need to really blot the eggplant after it has been in the colander, to remove excess water and salt. Also, you don't have to douse the slices in salt, just sprinkle each layer. If you're worried about the salt, leave your tomato sauce relatively salt-less, and rely on the cheese to provide what it needs. It's so good--exactly what some Brooklyn folks need as we're recovering.

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almost 2 years ago alohalife

Just an update, the inlaws already had dinner prepared so I stuck individual sized portions of this in a little foil "dish" and added the extra fresh toppings that had made it so good, fully not knowing if they would freeze well. Then stuck each serving in a quart size ziploc, and into the freezer. Yesterday for lunch I pulled out one of my foil dishes, stuck the whole thing into a glass pan and into the oven covered with foil at 350 for about an hour and 20. (foil off for the last 15) IT CAME OUT AWESOME!!!! Just as yum as the first time - so if you find yourself with leftovers - don't be afraid to freeze! Even the fresh mozzarella I had layered on top was perfect after cooking.

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about 2 years ago alohalife

OK, so I made this last night and was SOOOO disappointed. THe flavors just didn't meld at all, and the sauce was yuck - even tho the pieces tasted excellent individually.

But today, I decided to dress a piece up for lunch, because after all I did spend a bunch of time and money creating it for just myself. On top of my slice I sprinkled Italian seasoning, then 4 fresh chopped basil leaves from my garden. 3 more thin slices of mozzarella adorned the top of that, and then a liberal dusting of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, and a few shakes of crushed red pepper and 3 hunks of butter. I cooked it in a 400 degree oven until the cheese melted, and then broiled it (still on the middle rack) for 2-3 minutes till it looked done.
WOW - what a difference! I don't know if the night in the fridge, which always helps pasta, made all the difference or the extra cheese or if it was just missing the breading taste for me or what... but it was PHENOMENAL.
And now, I'm bringing it to the in-laws - a meal worthy of sharing. ;-)

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about 2 years ago TaraT

Seriously the best eggplant parm ever! Except I make my own sauce: just tomatoes, garlic, an onion and herbs roasted and whizzed in the food pro. We've eaten it twice in the last two weeks!

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about 2 years ago Plantman

Excellent results when made as written. Good Work!

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about 2 years ago Kimerbly

This is the best eggplant parmesan ever! I didn't find it to be oversalty at all, in fact the seasoning was absolutely perfect. I tweaked it slightly by adding torn up fresh basil to the mozzarella layer, and finishing the top layer with more fresh mozzarella and basil. Delicious :)

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about 2 years ago tylermmcdon

I made this last night. I noticed how many thought it was too salty, so I took it easy on the salt. Wonderful!

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about 2 years ago jane.colton3

Too salty! I should have rinsed the eggplant off before assembling in the pan-

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about 2 years ago Vicky K

I would have said to brush the epplant slices with oil, then dredge them in the flour. Doing it the way the recipe says would, to my mind, just make paste and be uneven.

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about 2 years ago Bevi

Actually I have made this dish several times and it is very, very good as written.

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about 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Dear Nancy Jo,
I joined Food52 in fall of 2009, and this was one of the first recipes I saved. I made it tonight for the first time. It was the best eggplant Parmesan ever. And so easy and not messy! Thanks for a great recipe.

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over 2 years ago ashleyamore

Made this for eggplant parmesan-loving friends as a welcome home 'gift'. They were impressed and well-fed :) Keeper!

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over 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

We love this! I'm teaching my oldest son, who's home from college on spring break, how to make it. We don't flour the eggplant and it works just fine. We use Japanese eggplant which we cut into long ovals on the bias, and don't sweat them in advance, as they don't need it. Nor do we peel them. I roast the eggplant slices at whatever high-ish temperature I happen to have going at the time (e.g., while making bread, or if I've got a roast cooking, or other veggies roasting). Yesterday, I added a layer of mild Italian sausage that I'd removed from their casings and cooked very quickly in a skillet on the stove. I typically add a handful of fresh herbs -- oregano, marjoram and/or parsley. Sensational! ;o)

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over 2 years ago Adam E

I served this last night at a dinner party, alongside polenta and broccoli rabe, and it was a hit! I have a tiny Manhattan oven, so the eggplant had to roast in several batches, but it was worth it. I didn't add any extra salt to the tomato sauce and found that the dish was seasoned just right that way.

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over 2 years ago pimimond

So I went with the suggestion to soak the eggplant slices in very salty water, under weights, for about an hour. After I dredged and baked them (on 3 baking sheets, btw) they came out fairly crispy. I layered them in a 9X14 pan- which is more standard, I think, than 7X11- so there were fewer layers. I threw some chopped basil in the middle along and subbed some sliced burrata for the mozzarella and threw a little more burrata on top. BIG HIT with family, far easier and far less oil than the usual recipe. Waiting while the leftovers heat up for lunch. Hurry, oven, hurry!

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almost 3 years ago broccolirose

Natalie is a recipe tester for Food52.

Just made this for dinner tonight- so simple so all the ingredients shine through. I just roasted the eggplant after salting without dredging in flour so this can certainly be gluten-free as well.

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almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I've made this without flour too, and found it fantastic. One of my favorite recipes on the site! ;o)

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Made this tonight. Excellent! Used Japanese eggplants (no salting or soaking!!), dusted lightly with Wondra flour before roasting. Added two cooked Italian sausages that I sliced paper thin, and layered between the eggplant and mozzarella. The family really liked this. And it's so easy. Best eggplant parm ever, hands down. ;o)

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about 3 years ago Robin22

Loved this! I can't wait to use the eggplant technique again! I added sauteed spinach and used Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce recipe cause I had leftovers lying around. I'm pretty sure I could have eaten the whole pan myself!

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over 3 years ago xMarcus

This was amazing! We soaked the slices as some others here suggested.

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over 3 years ago mjlandry

Hi Nancy Jo. I blogged about your recipe on my site
http://fogcitykitchen.com...
Just wanted to let you know. Also I loved your Nonna's recipe.

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over 3 years ago mjlandry

Ok I made this tonight. Definitely will make again. I loved this technique, much lighter than the usual Egpplant Parm recipes. Next time I will soak the slices in salted water like some people have suggested here. I found that even after rinsing the slices pretty thoroughly they were still a bit salty. Overall really tasty though. Thanks for sharing.

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over 3 years ago mjlandry

This looks sooo scrumptilicious! I am making it tonight:-)

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over 3 years ago Phoenix Helix

I made this tonight & it was delicious, but I made the mistake of thinking this was a quick recipe. It's one of my flaws - the inability to look at directions and accurately add up the time. While we didn't eat until 9pm, it was worth the wait, and thankfully we have leftovers for the rest of the week.

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over 3 years ago lpcooks

I made this last night and it came out great, except that it was WAY too salty. Do you rinse off the eggplant? Or did I use too much salt? (I didn't add any to the sauce because I tasted a piece of eggplant first and realized it was already too salty).

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almost 4 years ago Bevi

I have been eyeing this recipe for a while and finally made it yesterday. I omitted the salt from the sauce as it seemed there would plenty of residual salt in the eggplant as well as in the canned tomatoes, even after wiping the slices dry. Next time I will use fresh tomatoes.

It is delicious! I have a killer eggplant parmesan recipe that requires frying the eggplant slices in oil. This recipe knocks off a huge chunk of time, and there is no difference between baked and fried slices in terms of crispiness.

I used a 9" x 11" glass baking dish.

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almost 4 years ago jstew52

Very good. Still not exactly health food, but a nice deep rich flavor. I soaked the eggplant slices in salted water about an hour before patting dry and proceeding with the recipe.

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about 4 years ago stephreese

Wonderful recipe! This was a perfect use for all the eggplant and fresh tomatoes I have received in my CSA box. The only change I made was using fresh tomatoes vs canned. This seems like a much healthier way to enjoy eggplant parm. I love it! It's such a satisfying dish. I love the simplicity of the recipe, and the excellent results!

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about 4 years ago clbeth

Hands down the best eggplant parmesan I have ever had!

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over 4 years ago nymangosteen

I made this recipe today and it was INCREDIBLE. I have been searching for a melanzane alla parmigiana recipe since eating it in Rome and falling in love. Recipes I'd found on the internet pan-fried the eggplant slices, which was way too labor intensive to attempt too often. Baking the slices made the eggplant prep part far less exhausting for home-cooking, and also less greasy! Wonderful wonderful. I took Maria Teresa's suggestion of soaking the eggplant slices in water (I added salt to the water), and let the slices submerge for an hour (I put a plastic lid and weighed it with a kettle). It worked out great. I added basil to the layers and also sprinkled the top layer very lightly with panko for crunch.

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over 4 years ago monkeymom

We made this over the weekend and it was delicious along side some pan fried italian sausage. It seemed so much lighter than versions with breaded eggplant, but still very substantial. I'm looking forward to leftovers in my lunch box today too! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

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over 4 years ago C_lynn

I made this tonight and both my boyfriend and I loved it. I thought that pre-baking the eggplant slices was brilliant instead of frying each slice individually and the cheese in the center was such a good idea. He loved it because the eggplant was devoid of bitterness and it was entirely moist and delicious.

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almost 5 years ago SandyBon

I made this recipe a few weekends ago using my first ever crop of organic eggplants. The one layer of cheese was perfect and for the first time I served a wonderful eggplant parm which was not overwhelmed by oil or cheese! I will make it often thanks!!

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almost 5 years ago SandyBon

I made this recipe a few weekends ago using my first ever crop of organic eggplants. The one layer of cheese was perfect and for the first time I served a wonderful eggplant parm which was not overwhelmed by oil or cheese! I will make it often thanks!!

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almost 5 years ago sarahmina

i've been looking at this recipe for a while now. tonight i found myself with a free evening and decided to try it out. everything should have been a disaster: i didn't have enough eggplant, i used tinfoil to make "baking sheets" the only mozzarella i had was the processed part-skim kind, i had non-fancy crushed tomatoes, and i burnt some of my eggplant (I didn't read the part about how it browns on the bottom first...oops). In the end, though, none of this matters. it was amazing! equal to the best eggplant parmesan i ever had in a place in brooklyn that i've never been able to find again. next time, i will either use real mozzarella or none at all (it would still be amazing). this is a dish which i know will become part of my regular rotation. it is that good and that simple. THANK YOU!

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almost 5 years ago newbiecook

delicious recipe. i found that the buffalo mozz stayed somewhat tougher than the rest of the layers. especially in reheat scenario. maybe subbing fresh mozz the editor suggested would do the trick?

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almost 5 years ago shawsh123

IT LOOKS DIVINE! MY MOUTH IS WATERING.....

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almost 5 years ago keith in Mar Vista

Nancy, what does one need to know to pick male eggplants? it seems that a website devoted to perfecting a recipe would be more precise and seek to define terms or issues that are not self-evident. can't wait to have the answer!

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about 1 year ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

How do I know if its a male or female eggplant?

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6 months ago Caronann

@sexy and Keith......You won't because there is absolutely no such thing as a Male or Female eggplant. Heck, eggplants don't even have sex specific flowers as each flower contains both male and female reproductive parts.

The number of seeds can be climate and/or genetically influenced. How many seeds in an eggplant relate to how many pollen grains travel into the ovary of the fruit during reproduction before either the female parts are not receptive to more pollen, or the pollen is not viable anymore. And yes it is, botanically speaking, a fruit.

Just pick firm, smaller and heavy for their size eggplants, and you will be fine.

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about 5 years ago alisafoodista

Hi Nancy,

Just wanted to thank you for your delicious Eggplant parmesan recipe. I made it and loved it! I wish I had made more the first time because even my picky eaters at home couldn't get enough of it!

I found your recipe through a post in facebook and Im glad I did! If you have time, I hope you could also drop by our place at http://www.foodista.com Thanks!

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about 5 years ago Maria Teresa Jorge

Your recipe is very similar to the one we make in Italy, I will give your version a try. Just as a side note, I put the sliced eggplant in cold water for 1 hour and all the bitterness comes out (you can see the water purple and it tastes bitter). Then I dry the eggplant in kitchen towels pressing well, I find it a better option then salting them because they remain dry and no bitter aftertaste. Maria Teresa jorge - Italy

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about 5 years ago Jennifer Perillo

I made this last night using your technique and it was wonderful. The eggplant was indeed crispy and I loved the hidden surprise of fresh mozzarella in the center. A nice lesson in moderation compared to other eggplant parms.

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about 5 years ago 337greenwich

this looks delicious!

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about 5 years ago Mandy_

WOW!!! How delish! Made it for dinner this evening, with pasta.
The kids 12,8 and 4 LOVED it! The mozzarella in the middle was soft and soooo yummy! It was our first crisp fall day...perfect ending!

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about 5 years ago KelseyTheNaptimeChef

Eggplant Parmesan is one of our favorite winter dishes, I look forward to trying this version.

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about 5 years ago Jennifer Perillo

Love the idea of putting the mozzarella in the center layer only. I'll have to remember that for next time.