A simple, Italian style eggplant parmesan recipe that is easy enough for weeknights and perfect for Meatless Monday. Inspired by Jamie Oliver!
We started with Prosecco and hard Italian bread sticks. Usually when I think bread sticks, I immediately think of the hot, doughy goodness that Olive Garden serves but these were nothing like that. We followed that with antipasto which included salami, green beans, fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, marinated mushrooms and olive tapenade served with brioche crackers.
Our first course, or primo, was linguine with homemade tomato basil sauce and the main course was eggplant parmesan. We followed all of that with a duo of gelato: pistachio and strawberry. My family left very full and very happy. Plus, the meal gave us a chance to recap our Italy trip and share what we learned about food and wine.
I was a little nervous about preparing everything from scratch, so I let Trader Joe’s help with a few things and I have zero regrets about that. I know my limits in the kitchen :)
The one thing that I was set on making was the entrée, Eggplant Parmesan or Melazane alla Parmigana. My family loves eggplant parm and I grew up eating the frozen variety. My mom would heat it up and we would make eggplant parm sandwiches out of them. To this day, I still purchase the same Publix bakery bread that my mom would buy when I want to make an eggplant sandwich.
Smothering eggplant in cheese and marinara might not seem like the healthiest option for Meatless Monday, but once in a while, it’s worth the splurge. You get bonus points if you’re using fresh cheese and making marinara from scratch. This version can be served along side pasta, veggies or made into a sandwich. My personal favorite is to serve it over a bed of arugula.
- 2 medium eggplants, sliced into ½ inch rounds
- 12 oz fresh mozzarella
- Olive Oil
- Sea Salt
- Dried basil
- 3-4 cups of marinara
- 1 cup freshly shredded Pecorino Romano Cheese
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese (for the topping)
- 1 cup of Italian style bread crumbs (for the topping)
- Heat olive oil in a heavy bottom pan and lightly fry your eggplant.
- While the eggplant is cooking, give it a light sprinkle of sea salt.
- After frying, transfer the pieces to a paper towel to drain. You will need to do this several times to cook all of the eggplant. Keep in mind that the eggplant will soak up the oil, so you'll have to replenish the pan periodically.
- Once the eggplant is cooked, begin preparing your baking dish. Start with a layer of marinara sauce.
- Next, add a layer of eggplant. Top the eggplant with chunks of mozzarella, a sprinkle of Pecorino Romano cheese and dried basil.
- Repeat layers until all of the ingredients are used.
- Top the layers with your breadcrumbs and shredded mozzarella.
- Cover the dish and bake for 30-40 minutes at 375.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes prior to serving. If it seems watery immediately after you remove it from the oven, that's okay. The eggplant will soak up the liquid.
Your turn: what is your favorite Italian dish? Are you a fan of eggplant?