People who know I like to cook often ask what is my signature dish. I feel kind of guilty that I haven’t shared this with you yet, like I’ve been holding back. Well, I’m ready to share it. My signature, most favorite dish to make is eggplant parmesan. I rarely order eggplant parmesan in restaurants because I like mine the best (with the exception of Villa di Roma in South Philly). I have one major secret to the perfect eggplant parmesan which you have to keep reading to find out.
You start with three medium sized eggplants that get peeled and sliced about 3/4 inch thick. I usually put those in a colander with salt and let them sit for about fifteen minutes. This lets them sweat out the bitterness. I dab them with a paper towel before cooking.
Next get your eggs and seasoned breadcrumbs ready.
I usually use two pans for frying to make the process go faster. Heat up two pans with enough oil to coat the bottom on a medium heat. Dip each eggplant round in the egg mixture and then the breadcrumbs and put it in the hot pan with oil. You want to cook each side for about two to three minutes.
When you remove them from the pan place the eggplant on a paper towel to drain any excess oil. Coat a large 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Put a layer of your favorite tomato sauce on the bottom and put a layer of eggplant in the dish. I can usually get about six rounds in the dish. I don’t like having empty holes so I cut up pieces of eggplant and add them wherever I see a hole.
Next add a layer of tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Repeat with another layer of eggplant, sauce and cheese. Cover that with foil sprayed with cooking spray so the cheese doesn’t stick to the foil. Put it in an oven preheated to 350 degrees.
Now comes the most important part-cooking time. Cook it for thirty minutes covered and thirty minutes uncovered. After the hour turn off the oven and leave the dish in the oven for another hour. This is my secret to the perfect eggplant parmesan…leaving it in the oven for an hour turned off to get the perfect softness to the eggplant and the perfect cheesy crust on top. When it comes out it will look like this.
Serve this with a salad, crusty bread and nice wine. I hope you enjoy one of my absolute favorite dishes to make and eat!
- 3 medium sized eggplants, peeled and cut into ¾ inch rounds
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 4 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
- olive oil for frying
- 1 jar of marinara sauce
- 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Place eggplant rounds in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let the eggplant sit in the sink for about 15 minutes to remove bitterness. Pat dry with a paper towel (I do this before each batch of frying).
- Place breadcrumbs and eggs in separate bowls. Heat 2 nonstick pans over medium heat and add oil, enough to coat bottom. Dip eggplant in eggs and then breadcrumbs and put in hot oil. Cook about 3 minutes per side until each side is browned. Remove eggplant from pan and place on paper towels to drain any excess oil. Repeat with all eggplant adding more oil to pan as necessary.
- When finished coat a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Pour a layer of tomato sauce on bottom of dish, just enough to coat it. Place a layer of eggplant in dish. You will be able to fit about 6 rounds in the dish. Cut up some other eggplant rounds and fill in the holes so that the dish is completely covered with eggplant. Add a layer of sauce and half of mozzarella cheese. Repeat with another layer of eggplant, sauce and cheese. Spray a piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray and cover dish. Place in oven. Cook for 30 minutes covered and 30 minutes uncovered. After the hour turn the oven off and leave the dish in the oven for another hour.