I made this dish earlier this week and posted a few photos to social media. The recipe requests were overwhelming, so I decided it was a good time to start updating my blog again. I know it has been a long time, please forgive my laziness!
This recipe was modeled after the wonderful Parmigiana di melanzane my wife enjoyed at Pia’s Trattoria in Gulfport, Florida. I was rather pleased with the result and my wife, Kat, definitely approved! I’ve made it twice now and it is a little bit of work but so worth the effort.
Speaking of work, using the jarred sauce and seasoned Panko crumbs saves a little time here. If you really want to make your favorite fresh marinara and breadcrumbs go for it. Post a comment here and let me know how it comes out…I love hearing from you!
Parmigiana di melanzane (Eggplant Parmesan)
1 large – Globe Eggplant, washed and sliced crossways, 1/8” to 3/16” thick
2 cups – Seasoned Breadcrumbs (I used seasoned Panko)
3 – Eggs, mixed well with 3 Tbsp water
2 cups – All Purpose Flour
1 Jar – Prepared Marinara Sauce (I used Rao’s)
2 rounds – Fresh Mozzarella
1 Wedge – Parmesano Reggiano
½ Cup – Fresh Basil, torn into roughly ½” pieces
Avocado Oil (or your favorite neutral oil)
Place a baking rack on a half sheet pan (18” X 13”) and place eggplant slices on the rack overlapping if necessary, to fit them all. Sprinkle evenly with kosher salt and rest for at least 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes use paper towels to blot away any excess moisture that has formed on the eggplant.
Add a little less than 1/8” inch depth oil to a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat.
Working in batches, dredge eggplant slices in flour, shaking away excess flour, dip slices in egg wash, then, after allowing excess egg to drain away, finally dredge slices in breadcrumbs. (You are looking for a light but even coating here.)
When the oil is shimmering hot, again working in batches, add eggplant to the pan spaced evenly in a single uncrowded layer. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown on both sides. (Here you are looking for even, gentle browning. Adjust the heat up or down during cooking to keep oil bubbling but not burning the crust…Like this. After each batch add a little more oil to maintain depth.)
Remove browned eggplant to a baking rack or paper towels. It is ok to overlap the slices a little to make room.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
When all of the eggplant is browned begin construction by adding a light layer of marinara sauce to a greased (I used butter) 9” X 13” baking dish. Next add a layer of eggplant slices evenly space. (We will be looking to make stacks so no need to overlap.)
Spoon marinara sauce lightly but evenly over the slices then top each slice with 2 or 3 torn pieces of mozzarella, scatter with some of the basil, then generously grate parmesan over all.
Repeat this process saving the smallest eggplant slices for the top of your eggplant stacks.
Top with any remaining basil, more pieces of mozzarella (I had a little left over for the chef), and another generous layer of grated parmesan. Cover the dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper and bake 15 minutes. After 15 minutes remove the covering and bake 15 minutes more.
Remove the dish from the oven and cool for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley or a little more fresh basil and enjoy!