This Easy Restaurant Style Eggplant Parmesan Recipe really is crispy. And Delicious. My favorite eggplant parms are classic 'parmesan' dishes - the ones where the eggplant is made to order, covered with a delicious sauce, and oozing with bubbly golden brown mozzarella cheese. So why not make that at home? You can. I can. And, I do.
First, let's talk sog and mush and dispel that whole issue right off the bat. We're going to prep the eggplant so it's crispy on the outside and tender on the inside - not mushy. We're also not going to let it sog out, sitting indefinitely in the sauce. And we're not going to build a lasagne recipe.
Not a soggy breadcrumb in sight.
Don't get me wrong...I love lasagnas. I'm just not in love with soggy eggplant lasagna. Texture is important with this veggie - we know. We grow dozens and dozens of eggplant every season. But even I fell victim to that sog situation - so I got professional help from across the street. Janet to the rescue!
It's Restaurant Style
Though I've been making an eggplant parmesan recipe for decades thinking my recipe wasn't half bad, my world changed when I tasted my neighbor's version. Janet's a brilliant cook and has been gifting us with piping hot - just from the oven - eggplant parm during the gardening season. We give her eggplant and hours later she's at the door with fresh eggplant parm! That's a deal! Each time I complain to her that mine is nowhere near as good as hers - so she invited me over for an eggplant parm lesson and I took her up on it.
As any chef would, she has my station set up and ready to go as soon as I hit the kitchen door. My hands-on lesson started with her famous Easy Family Style Sunday Spaghetti Sauce and moved on to an incredible Eggplant Parmesan recipe. She sent me home with homemade sauce and pan of eggplant parmesan. As always, thank you, Janet!
So now, I'm passing that knowledge on to you!
It's easy, crispy, and delicious.
I did a video demo of the steps that you can find below.
Not sure about eggplant? It's ok. I get it.
Swap it out for a thinly pounded chicken breast and make a brilliant Chicken Parmesan. Or, use a giant portobello mushroom. Portabello Parmesan? (I'm doing that). The method is the same except I would skip the salting step.
A tip about the salt. Once I dab away the moisture from the eggplant, I knock off any remaining salt crystals. I don't add additional salt to this recipe after this point. There's enough salt that's soaked into the eggplant at this stage and I find more isn't needed to finish the dish. Season to your family's taste.
Easy Restaurant Style Eggplant Parmesan Recipe: Crispy & Delicious
- 2-3 eggplant, medium size sliced 3/4" thick. See notes below.
- 3 Tbsp koser salt for sprinkling on the eggplant to weep the moisture
- neutral oil, or olive oil for pan frying See note below
- 2 eggs plus 1/4 C water (eggwash)
- 1 cups flour, all-purpose
- 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs or plain breadcrumbs & add 1 tsp Italian Seasoning
- 4 cups prepared Family Style Sunday Spaghetti Sauce or your favorite pasta sauce
- 2 cups Mozzarella Cheese grated or pearled
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese shredded, grated, or pearled
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped for garnish (optional)
Components to have ready & on standby: Your favorite pasta sauce and grated cheese. Once the eggplant is done, it's just a quick assembly!
Prep the Eggplant
- Slice the eggplant 3/4 inch thick, placing it in a single layer on a rack or colander.Lightly and evenly salt each slice, both top, and bottom. Over the next hour, the moisture will bead up and drip away. Periodically lightly dab the moisture away with a paper towel. Flipping the slices and dabbing the other side. If needed, and only on the thickest slices, sprinkle a bit more salt if you feel it needs a bit more.
- Set up for the dredging step using 3 bowls. One bowl for the plain flour, one for an egg wash mixture (2 eggs + 1/4 C water), and the last for the panko/bread crumb mixture. If you have plain breadcrumbs on hand, just add 1 tsp of Italian Seasoning to the mix. The process goes dry, wet, dry. Lightly coat each slice of eggplant with plain flour, tamping off the extra. Then swirl it around in the egg wash, then cover it with the panko/bread crumb mixture. Set each prepped slice aside and allow to sit while the rest are breaded. Allowing them to sit and rest will create a crust that will adhere better when frying.
- In a large frying pan heat a neutral oil (or a light olive oil that will resist a low smoking point) to around 350f. How much you need will depend on the size of your pan. Use enough to cover at least 1/2 way up the slices of the eggplant. Test for heat with a small cluster of bread crumbs, if they sizzle, it's ready.
- Pan-fry the eggplant until golden brown on each side. Remove to drain on paper towels (or a clean repurposed paper bag). No need to resalt at this point.
- Preheat your oven to 350f and select what kind of baking dish you want. You can use a 9x13 cake pan, or ceramic baking dishes, pie plates, whatever you have available.
- Simply place a few slices in your baking dish, cover with a light sprinkle of cheese. Then cover very lightly aluminum foil and par-bake this for 10 minutes or so to melt the cheese and re-crisp the eggplant. Don't completely seal the foil cover, you don't want to steam the crispy eggplant. When the cheese is slightly melted, add warm scoops of your pasta sauce, then more cheese and bake about 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown. You can also switch the oven to 'broil' to finish it off to get the color you like. Sprinkle on some grated (or pearled) parmesan, a little fresh parsley, and enjoy!
In case any of you are interested in the variety we grew this year - it's called Amadeo. Incredibly succulent, nutty, heavy, few seeds, and is bitter-free. Our seeds sourced from Park Seed Company