So, I’ll admit that eggplant isn’t one of my favorite foods. Even when I had Eggplant Parmesan in the past, I hadn’t enjoyed it because I found it mushy and unpleasant tasting…
However, my wife is a big fan and I began playing around with strategies for making it in a manner we would both enjoy it and I think I’ve settled on the following.
First, I slice the eggplant into slices that are about 1/4″ thick and then toss them in a bowl with a handful of salt for at least an hour. Eggplant is a moisture-filled vegetable, so the salt is critical in drawing out much of the excess moisture.
Then I do a three-dip fry with the slices (dredge in flour seasoned with garlic powder, dipped in beaten eggs, and then coated in plain breadcrumbs seasoned with oregano and basil) until you get a nice golden-brown color.
I typically use canola oil for the frying, and find a cast-iron pot to be a great frying vessel. You’ll also notice that I have a baking rack out to let the excess oil drip off the fried eggplant, which helps give them a crispier coat.
As the eggplant finishes frying and resting, I begin assembling my casserole. I typically put a light layer of marinara on the bottom (we made our own this year, but any bottle will do if you want) and then put down a single layer of eggplant. This then gets topped by a layer to cheese, more eggplant, and then some sauce. I like to alternate fresh mozzarella and provolone between layers, but feel free to mix it up.
And once all the layers are built, I add one last layer of sauce and cheese and toss it in the oven for 30-45 minutes. Below is the finished product, using approximately 4 large eggplants.
Once you cut into it, you get some clear and beautiful layers, as seen here (sorry, I had already dug in…).
And, even though I’m not an eggplant fan, I not only find it tolerable, but excellent tasting.
I still don’t make it too frequently (it does take several hours and a lot of dishes to make, and my kids still aren’t big fans…), and while it’s vegetarian, I won’t claim it’s healthy. However, it is the one way I have found to enjoy eggplant.