“If you have tried one you’ve tried them all”, one friend recently told me about the various Eggplant Parmesan recipes out there. Let’s be real – there are so many out there and I hate to do it but I’ve got to toss this recipe in the mix! It was really THAT GOOD! No there isn’t an error in the title of this recipe it is really called Eggplant – Eggplant Parmesan. Stick around and I will tell you why.
Most of the recipes we post are adapted to what we are growing on our farm. That is where the “farm to table” comes in at. However, most, if not all, of our recipes can be easily adapted to fit what is growing on your homestead or what’s easily picked up at your local grocery store.
- Thai Eggplant
- Mozzarella cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- Almond milk (unsweetened)
- 2 eggs
- Italian bread crumbs
- The Marinara Sauce
- Canned tomatoes (28 ounce)
- Onion (yellow, small)
- Diced eggplant
- Bell pepper
- Avocado oil
- Eggplant – Rinsed eggplant with cool water and removed calyxes. Using mandolin, sliced the eggplant on setting 3 which for me produces a 3/16″ (5.6-mm) slice. My mandolin safety guard prevented me from slicing about 25% of each of the oddly shaped Thai Purple Ribbed eggplant. This may not be an issue for you if you use the more smooth, round Italian version that most of these recipes call for. I took these ends and chopped them and set a side. You’ll understand this step later.
- Garlic – Peeled, sliced, set a side.
- Bell pepper – Used one small purple bell. Sliced it lengthwise and set a side.
- Onion – Chopped coarsely and set aside
Let’s Cook the Marinara Sauce
Now I’m not one to feel like everything needs to be homemade but in this particular dish I decided why not go for the gusto and make the marinara too! It actually wasn’t that difficult especially if you did the prep above and chopped your veggies first. I do not like waiting too much so I went ahead and preheated the oven to 400 degrees.
I put about 2 tablespoons of avocado oil in a pan on medium heat. While that was heating I took the chopped eggplant, garlic, bell pepper, and onion and placed in the food processor and processed just until the veggies were at a nice diced size. That mixture was then added to the oil and sautéed for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Next I added the canned tomatoes. I added salt to taste and allowed to simmer covered on low while preparing the eggplant slices.
Making use of the eggplant ends in this marinara sauce its why we call this recipe Eggplant – Eggplant Parmesan. We have the slices as well and the diced flavor right in the sauce. The texture is a great meat fake out as well. Our daughter said to me, “Mom! Does this have meat in it?!” She said it in an alarmed tone since I don’t eat meat anymore. Gotta love those fake outs!
Let’s Cook the Eggplant Slices
You will notice that many recipes, in fact everyone I looked at, included a step to sprinkle the eggplant with salt and allow to sit to remove some of the bitterness. This I perhaps would have done if I were using a variety that this was an issue with but it is not an issue with this Thai Purple Ribbed eggplant. As I have said many times before, it has to be the sweetest eggplant out there!
I took two eggs, about 1/4th cup of almond milk, and a dash of salt and added to a mixing bowl. In another bowl I poured our bread crumbs and let the assembly line begin! This is a great place, if you want, to get the kiddos involved to speed the process along as well as have some family fun! I simply dipped the slices into the liquid batter then dipped them into the bread crumbs. Be sure to cover both sides very well. Then I laid the well covered slices onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Depending on how many slices you have it may take a very large baking sheet or you may need to cook a couple of batches. I spaced the slices so they weren’t touching. Some recipes added a drizzle of olive oil over the slices right before cooking. I did not do this but wanted to throw that idea out there for those who may be interested. Next I cooked at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Next time I will stop at 15 minutes as some slices got a bit crispier than I wanted. I did turn about half way through the cook time. I used about 3lbs of eggplant and of course this was too much. Since we added some salt to our egg/milk wash and since there is seasoning in the breadcrumbs these slices are very tasty eaten as is as an eggplant chip.
Let’s Cook – Put it all Together!
The fun part is layering up the dish. I started by placing a layer of marinara at the bottom of the pan to keep the meal from sticking to the dish. I just used a metal casserole pan. The order I used to layer was sauce, eggplant slices, then mozzarella. On the top layer I added basil leaves and a few extra slices of eggplant for a beautiful look! On the top most layer I sprinkled parmesan cheese instead of mozzarella. Baked at 400 degrees for 10 minutes with an additional 2 minutes or so on broil at the end to brown the cheese. After pulling from the oven I allowed it to sit five minutes then using a pizza cutter, cut slices for serving.
There you have it folks – easy as pie! We hope you enjoy making and eating this meal – from our family to yours!