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Baked Eggplant Parmesan


Posted: January 25

Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

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Eggplant is a unique and uniquely delicious vegetarian alternative to chicken: it’s a meaty yet tender vegetable with plenty of flavor that works well with breading. Baked Eggplant Parmesan shows off eggplant’s natural strengths with delicious results! Baked Eggplant Parmesan has the crunch of its fried cousin without the greasiness, and it comes with a delicately seasoned and rich tomato sauce. It’s cheesy, hearty, and even healthy! Baked Eggplant Parmesan is worth every second it takes to make it.


Ingredients

For the eggplant cutlets:
2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 cups unseasoned panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
For the sauce:
2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
For layering:
8 ounces part-skim mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
fresh basil leaves, chopped

Directions

Step 1

Place a layer of paper towels onto a baking tray.

Step 2

Gently season the sliced eggplant evenly with the salt and put them on the prepared pan.

Step 3

When the pan is full, place another layer of paper towels on top, then some more of the sliced eggplant.

Step 4

When all of the eggplant has been salted and layered, put a final layer of paper towels on top, making sure it is pressed down lightly on the slices.

Step 5

Set the eggplant slices aside for about an hour. By salting the eggplant and using the paper towels, the eggplants will weep away a lot of their moisture. This is essential to remove a lot of the bitterness associated with eggplants.

Step 6

Place an oven rack in the upper and lower-middle positions.

Step 7

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Step 8

Using the bowl of a food processor, add the breadcrumbs, oregano, red pepper, parmesan, and black pepper.

Step 9

Pulse the breadcrumb mix until it is finely ground.

Step 10

Transfer the bread crumbs to a plate or a bowl.

Step 11

Place the flour in a second bowl or shallow plate and set it aside.

Step 12

In another bowl, mix the eggs until fully blended. Set it aside.

Step 13

Pat the eggplant with more paper towels to remove all the liquid off the eggplants, wipe off any excess salt.

Step 14

Transfer the eggplant to a plate when dry. Put the baking trays in the oven.

Step 15

Slice a large piece of parchment or wax paper.

Step 16

Working one at a time, coat the eggplants in the flour, then the egg mixture, and let the excess drip off.

Step 17

Put the flour and egg-coated eggplant slices into the breadcrumb mixture, evenly covering each side.

Step 18

Dust off any excess and put the breadcrumb-covered slices in a single layer onto the parchment paper, repeating until all of the eggplant slides are coated.

Step 19

Remove the baking sheets from the oven and brush them with about 2 tablespoons of the oil.

Step 20

Put the eggplant slices onto the baking sheets in a single layer.

Step 21

Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake the slices until they are golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Step 22

Move the pans around, so the upper sheet is moved to the lower rack, and vice versa. Flip the eggplant slices in the middle of baking.

Step 23

While the eggplants bake in the oven, combine the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, olive oil, Italian seasoning, dried oregano, onion powder, granulated garlic, granulated sugar, salt, and pepper into a medium pan and heat it on medium-low heat.

Step 24

Cook the sauce until it is heated through. Set the sauce aside and keep it warm. Thin out the sauce with a little bit of water or wine, to taste

Step 25

Gently coat a 9x13-inch baking sheet with cooking spray.

Step 26

Pour in 1 heaping cup of the prepared tomato sauce all over the bottom of the sheet.

Step 27

Layer in half of the eggplant slices, making sure to overlap the edges of the slices as needed to fit into the dish.

Step 28

Spoon out 1 cup of the sauce to cover the eggplant.

Step 29

Top the sauce on the baking sheet with half of the mozzarella cheese.

Step 30

Put in the remaining layer(s) of eggplant, and top it off with the sauce, leaving some of the eggplant uncovered so it will stay crisp.

Step 31

Top with the parmesan cheese and the rest of the mozzarella cheese.

Step 32

Bake until the cheese is bubbling and browned, about 15 minutes.

Step 33

Cool the dish for about 10-15 minutes and serve it topped with the basil.


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