Eggplant Parmesan is delicious, but it takes forever to prepare. This version—which uses the hasselback technique usually applied to potatoes—is visually impressive enough to serve to guests, but still easy enough to prepare on a weeknight. (Especially if you use jarred marinara sauce.) We like to serve this with crusty bread as a main dish, but it would work just as well alongside pasta and/or a protein as a side.
Optional extra step: If you have the extra time and like your eggplants really creamy, after step two, you can salt the eggplant in between each slice, stick a piece of paper towel in each slit, and hold the whole accordion-like situation together with two cans (or whatever is laying around your kitchen) on either side. Let it sit for 45 minutes until the extra moisture has drained out of the eggplant. Discard the paper towels before you proceed with stuffing it. Note that you might want to use slightly less salt when seasoning. —Food52
Test Kitchen Notes
This recipe was developed in partnership with Shun Cutlery. —The Editors
6 to 8
low-moisture mozzarella, roughly grated (depending on how cheesy you want it and how large your eggplants are)
(24-ounce) jar of marinara sauce (or 2 1/2 cups of your favorite homemade marinara)
cloves garlic, minced
oregano leaves, whole
basil leaves, torn in half, plus more to serve
Slice eggplants into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick slices crosswise, stopping about 1/4 inch from the bottom so it stays connected along one end. An easy way to do this: Place a chopstick on either side of the eggplant, and cut until your knife hits the chopsticks; this will keep you from slicing all the way through.
Add marinara sauce to a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Arrange eggplants on top of the sauce.
Sprinkle the mozzarella, garlic, oregano, and basil leaves in between each slice of eggplant. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, taking care to get some in between the slices. Bake, covered, until the eggplant is very tender (but not totally melted) and sauce is bubbly, about 50 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the Parmesan and panko breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the eggplant pan from the oven and uncover. Divide the bread crumb mixture evenly and sprinkle on top of both eggplants. Return the pan to the oven and bake, uncovered, until the Parmesan-panko mixture is lightly browned and crispy, about 10 minutes more.
Top with more torn basil and serve with crusty Italian bread.