Fried Eggplant, a rich savory meat sauce, and loads of cheese combine to make this incredible Eggplant Parmigiana! An Italian dish that is a favorite at this Nest!
Warning… meatless dishes…yeah…not so much in this house! This is my very own interpretation of Eggplant Parmigiana.
I realize that generally this dish is meatless. I make mine with a meat sauce BUT…you can make it meatless! (I will always let you know what you can “tweek” that won’t ruin a recipe I’m sharing. I’m also going to tell you how you can make it easier than the way I make it.)
This is not a hard recipe! It is a little more involved and time consuming but, it is SO worth it! My Eggplant Parmigiana is like no other…even if you don’t like eggplant…you’ll love this!
Let’s start with the sauce. You are going to brown one pound of ground beef. I added a little dried onion flake because I didn’t have a fresh onion. You can do either! There’s a big hit of minced garlic in there too!
Next, add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce (gotta love those cans of tomatoes…keep’em coming!), water, sugar, spices and garlic.
Mix that all together, cover and let simmer about 45 minutes.
TIP: If you don’t want to hassle with making your own sauce crack open a bottle of store bought sauce and mix it together with your meat and let it simmer for about 20 minutes OR don’t add meat and just have a couple of bottles of your favorite sauce ready to go! (I’m easy like that!)
Let’s get started on the eggplant. I love eggplant! I get so excited when I start seeing rich deep purple in the markets this time of year! I think it’s one of those veggies people are scared of but, don’t be! They are our friends!
Using a knife to trim the purple skin off the eggplant! Why? Because I don’t like it and it’s bitter! (This is all about me right? lol)
I realize a lot of chef’s leave it on for the color and I’m sure it has a million nutrients in it but, I don’t like it. So…off it goes! (It’s not like this a low fat dish…it’s a cardiologist nightmare!) I also don’t believe in “sweating” the eggplant. (Frankly, I’m a little sick of all the sweating going on around here right now! lol) That’s just one step we can toss aside. Now, slice it into 1/4 inch slices like so…
Next place a big fry skillet on the stove top and get that heating up with some oil. (Where does a fry pan with hot oil go? It goes on the back of the range so that little hands won’t reach up and grab it causing a horrible horrific accident! Please…with sugar on top!)
Crack eggs and place them into a shallow pie plate. Whip them up and add a tablespoon of water and whip again.
Place your seasoned bread crumbs in another pie plate or shallow dish. Dip the eggplant into the egg wash and then into the crumbs. Making sure both sides are well coated.
Next carefully place the breaded eggplant into the oil in your large fry pan.
Watch them carefully…(they do tricks…not really), they will cook fairly quickly and should be tender when poked with a fork. Turn them as they begin to turn a golden brown. Once done cooking, place them on a paper towel lined plate so that the excess oil can drain off. Aren’t they beautiful?!
The meat sauce should be done by now and the house should smell like little Italy! Your welcome! (hee, hee)
Time to bring all the elements together.
TIP: Have the grated mozzarella cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, and your Ricotta cheese handy dandy and ready to go!
Begin with a layer of your breaded eggplant in the bottom of a casserole dish. You can cut some of the pieces up to fit into the bare spots. (A stray piece may end up in your mouth! Whatever works!)
Drop the Ricotta cheese by the spoonful on top of the eggplant. Sprinkle with Parmesan and a layer of mozzarella cheese.
Next… spoon a layer of sauce on top of the cheese’s. Repeat the entire process again. Layer of Eggplant, then ricotta, then Parmesan, mozzarella, and then sauce. Finish with another sprinkling of mozzarella. (Yes, I realize there is no picture of that final step…I got excited about eating it! Pictures were not on my mind…sorry! Epic fail!)
Pop it into the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees until the cheese is bubbly and melted!
TIP: If you want your cheese a little brown place it under the broiler for a few minutes but, be sure to watch it!
I like to cut mine into squares. It makes serving easier.
The layers of breaded eggplant with the cheese and meat sauce is just out of this world!
This is not something that is on the “weekly” menu planner, for calorie and cost sake, but it is straight up comfort food full of rich robust flavor.
The eggplant is never bitter and it is never watery. It’s just down right delicious! It’s one of those “special” dishes that brings family together! I serve mine with cheesy garlic bread (We are already off the cheese scale here so we might as well keep on going!) and a nice healthy green salad to wash all the guilt down with!
The printable recipe is down below for ya’ll. I hope you love this dish as much as we do. Is it possible not to love? (wink, wink) Thanks for popping by!
This is a very flexible recipe. If you don't want to make a meat sauce you can just use 2 jars of your favorite store bought sauce or make the sauce above without using the meat. You could also brown the meat and add canned sauce to cut down on time. You also can leave out the Ricotta Cheese if you don't like it.
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