This Recipe for Oven-Fried Eggplant Parm Is Easy and Adored

I will be the first to tell you eggplant has never excited me. But like with most ingredients, what I’ve discovered is that when prepared properly, eggplant is indeed delicious. Case in point: this eggplant Parm.

The cheese and bread crumbs are key here (though they’d make pretty much anything delicious, if we’re being honest). While the eggplant is traditionally pan-fried in oil, I like to do mine in the oven—it’s hands-off, less messy, and I personally think the taste comes through better. In fact, I think of this dish as a kind of lasagna bake, minus the noodles, plus pesto and insanely delicious cheesy oregano bread crumbs.

The one thing to note is that it’s important to salt the eggplant before cooking to draw out excess moisture, so be sure not to skip this step. And feel free to prep the dish in advance, all the way up to the final bake. You can keep it in the fridge for a day or two, then fire it off and add the bread crumbs before you serve it. This is eggplant to get excited about. Trust me.

(Related: 4 Myths About Nightshade Vegetables, Busted)

Oven-Fried Eggplant Parm Recipe

Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 1 house 15 minutes
Total: 1 house 45 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds eggplant, cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick planks
  • Fine pink Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing and drizzling
  • ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • ¾ cup pesto
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (24-ounce) jar marinara sauce (I like Rao’s)
  • 1 cup shredded low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves, for serving

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease two baking sheets.
  2. Place the eggplant on a clean kitchen towel and heavily salt each side. Let drain for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, bread crumbs, ¼ cup of the Parmesan, and the oregano. Season with salt.
  4. In a separate small bowl, stir together the ricotta, pesto, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  5. Pat the eggplant dry. Drizzle both sides with olive oil and season with pepper. Arrange on the prepared baking sheets (it’s okay if the slices overlap). Roast, rotating the pans halfway through, until the eggplant is soft and beginning to brown slightly, 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. Spread ½ cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9 × 13-inch baking dish. Arrange a quarter of the eggplant over the sauce, overlapping as needed to create an even layer. Dollop with about ½ cup of the ricotta mixture and spread it out evenly. Spread on another ½ cup marinara sauce. Repeat the layers twice more. Add the remaining eggplant, the remaining marinara, the mozzarella, and top with the remaining ¼ cup Parmesan.
  7. Cover with foil and bake until the mozzarella is melted and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top, and continue baking until the topping is lightly golden and crisp, about 15 minutes more. Let stand for about 10 minutes.
  8. Top with fresh basil leaves and serve.

3d Halfbakedharvesteveryday

Reprinted from Half Baked Harvest: Every Day. Copyright © 2022 by Teighan Gerard.Photographs copyright © 2022 by Teighan Gerard and Kristen Kilpatrick. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.

Next: How to Make Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

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Originally Published in Best Health Canada