Have you tasted Eggplant Parmesan at a restaurant? It is so delicious and one of our favorite vegetable dishes. But to actually shop for one at the store seemed daunting.
While shopping in the produce section at the grocery store, we never really gave eggplant a second glance. But those days are gone. We love eggplant in this easy and tasty recipe of Eggplant Parmesan.
My husband and I went on a cruise in March with his family. One night, they brought us this delicious eggplant Parmesan. I thought it would be a good appetizer (it seemed kind of small), but with the delicious cheeses and sauce, it filled us right up.
I had never bought an eggplant before, and I didn’t even know where to find it! But, with the delicious Eggplant Parmesan I had on the cruise, I was determined to make it happen.
It was so easy, and the taste was out of this world delicious! So, if you’re afraid to cook eggplant, don’t worry. It’s a lot easier than it looks.
what is eggplant and is it healthy?
Eggplant is a vegetable from the nightshade family. Other nightshade vegetables include bell peppers and tomatoes. Globe or American eggplant is the variety you see most often and are familiar with.
They are a large pear shaped vegetable with a deep purple skin. Their flesh is a creamy white color.
Eggplants are very healthy. They are high in fiber, loaded with nutrients, and low in calories. A lot of their nutrients are found in their skin. So it’s the perfect veggie for any diet.
Eggplants are available year round, but their prime season is from August through October.
how to pick an eggplant
Picking a good eggplant is really quite simple. When you pick it up, you want it to feel heavy for its size. Look for a nice even and shiny skin tone. No discoloration on it.
At the end of the eggplant, you should see a green cap. The green cap on top is a sign of freshness. Some will even have a green stem.
You can test for ripeness by applying pressure with your finger on the eggplant. If it bounces back, then it’s ripe. If it doesn’t bounce back, then it needs a few more days to ripen.
do you have to peel the eggplant?
Every recipe with eggplant will vary slightly on how to prepare it and whether or not you should peel it. How you cook it will often determine whether to peel it or leave the skin on.
Eggplant skin is edible. The skin on larger eggplants can be tough. If the eggplant is smaller and tender, the healthy skin can be left on.
what does sweating an eggplant mean?
Recipes with eggplant will often have you sweat the eggplant first. It’s not a big deal and usually doesn’t take more than 30 minutes to 1 hour. The length of time will often vary with each recipe.
Eggplant holds a lot of water. When you sweat the eggplant, it will result in a tender and more flavorful tasting eggplant.
Sweating the eggplant is a process where you literally help the eggplant release some of the water it is holding onto. It also has a tough skin and a bitter taste. The sweating process will give it a better flavor.
After 20 minutes you will rinse the salt off and pat the eggplant dry. Then proceed with your recipe. Salted eggplant is less chewy. If the skin is left on, it’s not as tough and easier to chew because of the sweating.
fun add-ins for this eggplant parmesan recipe
You can be so creative with our Eggplant Parmesan recipe. We love to add in other ingredients. Some of our readers have also suggested some fun add-ins too.
- Mushrooms – We love adding in fresh sauteed mushrooms.
- Ricotta Cheese – You can never have enough cheese, and ricotta cheese adds a little extra flavor.
- Zucchini – We added diced zucchini, it’s a great way to sneak in more veggies.
- Onions – Diced and cooked onions add so much flavor.
- Crushed Garlic and Basil Croutons – One of our readers used this in place of the seasoned bread crumbs. YUM!
how to make eggplant Parmesan
- Peel the eggplant. Cut into 1/4 inch slices. Salt each slice on both sides and then let them sit in water for 20 minutes.
- Drain the water from the slices and rinse under cool water. Pat dry.
- Beat eggs in a small bowl and set aside.
- Place bread crumbs in a small bowl and set aside.
- Dip each eggplant slice in the eggs, and then dredge in the bread crumbs.
- Place on a baking sheet and cook in the oven at 450 degrees for 5 minutes, flip over and cook 5 more minutes.
- Reduce oven temp to 350 degrees.
- In a separate 9 x 13 inch baking dish, spread 1 cup of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the pan. Layer with half of the eggplant slices.
- Add another cup of spaghetti sauce to the top of the eggplant slices. Top with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and 1 cup or mozzarella cheese.
- Repeat with the second layer of eggplant slices, then sauce and cheese.
- Top with fresh chopped basil leaves.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cheese starts to turn golden.
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Other Healthy Side Dishes
- Baked Butternut Squash
- Italian Roasted Vegetable Medley
- Slow Cooker Mushrooms
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Squash
- Green Bean Fries
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