Eggplant Parmesan with Breaded and Baked Eggplant

I was looking for something easy and comforting to make today for dinner, and this definitely hit the spot.  I was so hungry that I didn’t even have time to take a photo!

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil, for baking sheets
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup plain or italian style dry breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan plus 2 tbsp for topping (I actually used shredded parmesan and it worked fine)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried parsley (you could use 1 tbsp. fresh parsley, but I just used what I had on hand)
  • Sea salt and ground pepper
  • 2 medium or one large eggplant (about 2 lbs worth)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • ¾ cup mozzarella (divided)
  • 1½ cups marinara sauce (divided)
  • Additional marinara sauce if desired for pasta side
  • Pasta to serve as side (I swear by the Dreamfields brand)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut ends from eggplant and slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices and place in a colander. Sprinkle with sea salt and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Rinse the eggplant under cool water, drain thoroughly and pat dry.

2.  Brush 2 baking sheets with olive oil and set aside. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and 2 tablespoons water. In another bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup Parmesan, and 1 tbsp of the basil. Season with sea salt and pepper.

3.  Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture, coating well; place on baking sheets. Bake until golden brown on bottom, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn slices; continue baking until browned on other side, 20 to 25 minutes more. Remove from oven and lower oven heat to 350 degrees.

4.  In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, ½ cup mozzarella cheese, parsley and basil. In an 8 x 8 baking dish, spread ½ cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of the pan. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the dish and spread ½ cup of the cheese mixture on top; repeat, layering 2 more times. Top with remaining (1 cup) marinara sauce and sprinkle the remaining (¼ cup) mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese (2 tbsp) on top. Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.

5.  Meanwhile, boil water to cook pasta according to package directions.  Time this so that you are just starting to cook the pasta when the 30 minutes is over. Also begin heating the marinara sauce.

6.  After 30 minutes of cooking the eggplant parm, remove aluminum foil and bake another 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly golden brown. Cool slightly and serve.

This recipe can be made ahead of time. Just cover the dish with aluminum foil after preparing but before baking and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.  If you try this, you might need to add an additional ten to fifteen minutes to the thirty minute bake time.

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