Baked Eggplant Parmigiana
Baked Eggplant Parmigiana is a classic southern Italian dish, also known as Eggplant Parmesan, though not exactly the same. Authentic Parmigiana with its rich, sharp taste is often called the “King of Cheeses”. Parmesan is a little more acidic and slightly saltier. While close, if you are wondering if they can be used interchangeably, the answer is yes and no. When the cheese is going to be incorporated in a dish, you can opt for the less expensive Parmesan. However, if the cheese has a starring role, I would suggest that you choose Parmigiana.
Another popular Italian cheese, that I always use in my Baked Eggplant Parmigiana is Mozzarella. I like to use a low moisture, whole milk mozzarella because I believe it melts better and is less watery.
Traditional vs. Non-Traditional Baked Eggplant Parmigiana
Traditionally, my grandmother would slice the eggplant and then salt it, to remove any bitterness. After, letting the eggplant sit for a while, she would rinse the slices and pat them dry. Today’s eggplants are bred to be less bitter and so, salting them is not required.
I admit, I no longer pan fry the eggplant slices anymore, like my grandmother did. It is less time consuming and require a lot less oil, if you chose to oven fry the eggplant slices, instead. With all the flavor coming from the tomato sauce and cheeses, trust me you will not be sorry.
You will need:
- 2 medium Eggplants, peeled, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds, and patted dry
- all-purpose flour for dredging
- Salt & Pepper
- 4 Lg. Eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp. Milk
- 4 cups Panko Breadcrumbs
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano or Parmesan Cheese, divided in half
- 1/2 tbsp. dried Parsley
- 1/2 tbsp. dried Basil
- Salt & Pepper
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 6 cups Tomato Sauce
- 1 lb. Mozzarella, sliced thin
- fresh Basil, sliced
Preparing Baked Eggplant Parmigiana
- In a shallow bowl, season your flour with salt and pepper, then dip both sides of your eggplant rounds.
- Next, using a separate shallow bowl, combine eggs and milk, then dip floured eggplant rounds.
- Lastly, dip the eggplant rounds into another shallow bowl, containing the mixture of breadcrumbs. 1/2 cup grated cheese, parsley and basil.
- Now, spread a thin coating of olive oil, on your large oven tray and place the rounds on the tray, in a single layer. Cook in a 400° pre-heated oven for 8 minutes per side. Generally, I like to sprinkle a bit of salt on the eggplant rounds as soon as they come out of the oven.
- Meanwhile, spread a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of your casserole pan. Sometimes, I will use individual gratin dishes.
- At this point, place a layer of half of the eggplant rounds over the sauce.
- Now, place half the mozzarella slices over the eggplant and repeat with another layer of sauce, and the rest of the eggplant.
- Cover the top with the remaining mozzarella and grated cheese.
- Bake, uncovered in a preheated 375° oven, for approximately 25 minutes.
- Remove from oven, then sprinkle with fresh basil. Bon Appetit!
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