Eggplant parmesan is one of those dishes that proves that the extra step you take to prepare it makes all the difference between an OK dish and one that you want a third or fourth serving of.
Though the quality of sauce you use will also make a difference, the key we’ll cover here is the eggplant prep. To soften up and ease the bitter taste, the eggplant needs a little time in the oven first.
- 1 eggplant
- lemon juice
First, wash and cut the eggplant into slices ½ inch thick. Place on a baking sheet, spritz each slice with lemon juice and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake in a 350-degree oven for ten minutes. Flip eggplant and bake for another five. Remove from oven.
Let the eggplant cool and sit for a few hours, even most of the day, before parmesan-ing it. It’ll make a phenomenal difference in the taste.
To complete the eggplant parmesan:
- 1 egg
- breadcrumbs (Italian are the best, though you can add oregano or basil to regular breadcrumbs)
- grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tbs olive or vegetable oil
- shredded mozzarella cheese
- tomato sauce
- 1 lb. cooked spaghetti
When you’re ready to finish cooking the eggplant, beat egg in a bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in a separate bowl or plate and mix in a little Parmesan cheese. Take a slice of eggplant, dip both sides in the egg and coat with bread crumbs.
Heat oil in a skillet on medium heat. Place all the eggplant slices in a single layer and cook the eggplant five-seven minutes and flip to the other side. Cook for another five-seven minutes. (If the breadcrumbs get too dark brown after only a couple minutes, remove skillet from heat and let it cool for a minute or two. Reduce heat and continuing cooking).
Now, spoon your homemade tomato sauce on the eggplant, top with a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese. Cook until the cheese has melted (about a minute). Remove from heat.
It should be crisp and golden on the outside and soft on the inside, without being babyfood-mushy. Place eggplant on a bed of cooked spaghetti. Serve with any extra sauce and more Parmesan cheese.
And, most important, a good chianti.
Do you know of a restaurant in Chicago to get great eggplant parmesan? (Sadly, we only know that Quartino, great in other areas, is not). Leave recommendations in the comments!
*thanks to Mama and Papa Brandon for sharing their eggplant tricks and recipe