Eggplant Parmesan

eggplantWhile you could certainly run out and buy a box of frozen Eggplant Parmesan, or head to the local Italian food purveyer and buy some ready made, there something really satisfying about preparing this dish yourself.

Traditional eggplant parm is made with eggplant slices that have been dipped in eggs and breadcrumbs and then fried.  While undoubtedly delicious, my goal is to eat healthier, so I decided to experiment with grilling my eggplant instead of frying it.  Here’s the result:

3 large, firm eggplants
2 26-oz jars of marinara sauce  (you could certainly make your own sauce, but I don’t have time most weekday nights)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs (can use plain or Italian flavored)
3/4 cup olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
freshly ground pepper
fresh basil leaves, torn [for garnish]

Preheat your bbq, indoor grill or grill pan.  At the same time, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch slices.  [Some folks like to salt the eggplant and leave it in a colander to “weep”.  I don’t find that’s necessary in this dish.]

Combine the olive oil, salt, oregano, garlic, cayenne and a few grindings of pepper.  Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with the seasoned oil.  Grill the eggplant on each side, until just barely charred.  Remove and set aside.

Brush your baking pan (approx. 8 x 10 or equivalent oval) with olive oil.  (I tend to use a paper towel, but a basting brush works well) and spread with a thin layer of the marinara sauce.  Sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesn cheeses.

Continue to alternate layers of sauce, eggplant and cheese.  Sprinkle breadcrumbs on final layer.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Remove from oven and garnish with basil

I like to serve this with a side of pasta, a salad and some nice garlic bread.  mmmmmm


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