Eggplant Parmesan

August 31, 2009

Test Kitchen-Approved

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&MThe Editors

Serves: 6
Prep time: 1 hrs
Cook time: 2 hrs

Ingredients

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
In This Recipe

Directions

  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.

More Great Recipes:
Italian|Eggplant|Mozzarella|Parmesan|Vegetable|Summer|Vegetarian|Entree

Reviews (151) Questions (7)

151 Reviews

erinrae October 14, 2018
Agree that this is great! It's time consuming but not overly messy or complicated, and it's great avoiding breading and frying. Next time I'll change the sauce, I think a crushed tomato sauce would work a lot better than whole tomato (even broken up). I might even try Marcella Hazan's tomato with onion sauce... I may also try ricotta per other commenters. Thank you for sharing!
 
bobbe August 18, 2018
Also, this a fun recipe to tinker with. I boosted the flavor of the tomato sauce, with a healthy pinch of red peppers, a splash of leftover black coffee, and a bit of sugar . . . old habits die hard. ha.
 
bobbe August 18, 2018
After I removed the thin eggplant slices and thoroughly patted each one dry, I went ahead and layered each slice between another layer of paper towel. After allowing time for additional sweating including placing a plate and pot on top of my mountain of eggplant, I felt satisfied that most of the saltiness that some are referring too was taken care of. Also the sauce does not call for extra salt. I tasted one of the slices of eggplant that was very brown and crispy and it was just salty enough to handle the slightly under salted sauce. Right now it is cooling and I'm very excited to see the happiness around the table tonight. Hope this was helpful.
 
babswool August 7, 2018
I love eggplant parm but hate the frying part - so much grease and mess. Cooking the eggplant in the oven was such a revelation. Loved!
 
Dave May 17, 2018
Recipe calls for 7x11 baking dish but photo is what looks like a shallow paella pan <br />. That is a huge difference in thickness.
 
Beverly March 20, 2018
I made the eggplant parm and was pleased with the results. Next time I will cut the slices a little thicker as some of mine were a bit thin. I watched them closely in the oven so they wouldn’t burn. Also, I rinsed the salt off and they were still salty but no too salty. This process much easier than the old breading and frying.<br /><br />
 
Cheryl November 21, 2017
Delicious, but definitely too salty. Will rinse eggplant next time.
 
jpriddy October 28, 2017
And about the male or female fruit silliness: http://depts.washington.edu/hortlib/resources/resource_search.php?term=2697
 
jpriddy October 28, 2017
Am I the only one who wonders how that photo belongs with this recipe? The photo shows a very thin casserole, perhaps three layers of UNPEELED eggplant, but the recipe seems to suggest many (perhaps six or more) layers of PEELED eggplant.
 
Two T. October 9, 2017
This was excellent.
 
Two T. October 9, 2017
Delicioius!
 
Loredona September 23, 2017
Please let me know if when freezing you bake it first or can you you just freeze it after assembling it?
 
keg72 September 23, 2017
I have baked it halfway and then frozen it. When reheating, I bake it from frozen.
 
keg72 September 20, 2017
Delicious! I've made this a number of times. The few notes I'd share are that I do wash off the salt; I find that it needs more sauce; it's definitely time-consuming; it freezes well; don't slice the eggplant too thin before baking, or it'll burn.
 
Loredona September 14, 2017
Can you freeze this?
 
njsusan September 4, 2017
By far the best eggplant parm I've made! You don't miss the breeding one bit. It's uncomplicated and downright delish!!
 
njsusan September 4, 2017
Uhm breading. Now if I could only figure out how to edit this on my phone ...
 
Cheryl July 3, 2017
Best way I have tried to sweat eggplant! And best way to get it crispy without frying. Your Nonna knew what she was doing. Thank you for sharing. Best eggplant parm I have ever made!
 
Adam June 26, 2017
Just made this and WOW is it good! Best recipe for this dish that I ever made! The one modification is I used jar sauce, Olivo by Classico, since I didn't have the tomatoes or the patience to cook a sauce tonight. I might rinse the slices after sweating next time to cut the salt down a bit, but it tastes great right out of the oven dish after cooling. I am going to pair with some spaghetti tomorrow night.
 
Gardener&Cook June 17, 2017
Oh boy oh boy, this was good! Made a half recipe following the directions. Next time (and there will be a next time) I'll make a full recipe just to have tasty leftovers.
 
Iris9 January 26, 2017
Just made this -- again -- and wow is it ever tasty. It's excellent the next day, cold or warm. I highly recommend it. I adulterated the sauce by starting with a finely diced onion and adding chili flakes and tons of chopped basil toward the end. PS: I've never quite got the eggplant to go "cardboard stiff," as the recipe states it will, but I don't think it makes a difference. It's delicious!
 
tina November 22, 2016
I found a better way to sweat my eggplant - lots of sea salt (less salty than table salt), sandwiching them between 2 cutting boards, and piling it with wine/liquor bottles to really give it a squeeze.