Eggplant Parmesan is a favorite in my house, and I could make it every week with no complaints. As delicious as this eggplant dish is, it isn’t that attractive on a plate. I have made every variation that you could imagine of this traditional Italian dish over the years, adding meat, changing the cheese, or adding in zucchini as well as the eggplant.
Recently I wanted to create an Eggplant Parmesan that would look great specifically for entertaining. My plan was to create individual stacked eggplant slices layered with cheese and sauce that you could assemble ahead of time, making them perfect for serving guests. I will be honest and tell you that it has taken me a few tries to get it right.
Since I do not like the heavy texture of fried eggplant, I initially used grilled, unbreaded slices of eggplant and layered them with cheese and sauce. Unfortunately, the final dish wasn’t much better looking than the traditional recipe, and it didn’t hold together exceptionally well. I then breaded the slices and baked them, which turned out perfect, but I used a chunky tomato sauce, and the final product was very rustic looking on the plate. In my third attempt, I used my breaded baked slices and smooth tomato passata products, and it was a winner.
This is easy to prepare, and you could bake the eggplant, make the sauce, and then assemble and bake just before serving. When choosing the perfect eggplants for this recipe, select firm, unblemished, medium-sized eggplants. I like Muti brand tomato pasta as I feel it has the best fresh tomato flavor, and I always use fresh herbs in my kitchen. You can use either regular or Panko breadcrumbs, although Panko crumbs will create a crisper slice. I like fresh mozzarella in this dish, not the firmer variety used for pizza.
- 2 Medium Eggplants, Ends Trimmed & Cut Into 1/2-inch Slices
- 1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 2 Large Eggs, Beaten
- 1 1/2 Cups Grated Parmesan Cheese, Divided
- 1/2 Cups Breadcrumbs (See Notes Above)
- 2 Tablespoons Olive oil
- 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 1 500 Gram Jar Tomato Passata (Pureed Tomatoes)
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 3 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Fresh Basil
- 1/2 Cup Grated Parmen Cheese
- 10 Ounces Fresh Mozzarella, Cut Into Thin Slices
- Fresh Basil Sprigs
- Non-stick Olive Oil Spray
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick spray.
- Assemble three shallow bowls; one with flour seasoned with salt, pepper, one with eggs beaten with a tablespoon of water, and one with breadcrumbs seasoned with oregano.
- Dip each eggplant slice first into the flour, then the eggs, then the breadcrumbs.
- Press with your fingertips to help crumbs adhere well.
- Place breaded slices on the prepared baking sheet.
- When all the eggplant slices have been breaded, spray the tops liberally with the olive oil spray, then bake for 10 minutes.
- Turn the slices over and bake another 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and fork tender.
- While the eggplant is baking, make the sauce.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan.
- Once hot, add the garlic and cook a minute or two until fragrant.
- Add the tomato puree, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cook another 10 minutes.
- To finish the dish, place six of the largest eggplant slices on an oiled baking sheet.
- Place a spoonful of grated cheese, and a slice of the mozzarella, then add another two layers, creating stacks of three eggplant slices layered with cheese.
- Loosely cover the tray with aluminum foil, then bake 10 to 12 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
- Serve the slices topped with tomato sauce and a little extra grated Parmesan cheese.
- Serve immediately garnished with fresh basil.