Baked Eggplant Parmigiana

I love Italian food and eggplant parmigiana is one of my favorites.  Creamy eggplant, gooey cheese and marinara sauce bubbling away as it comes to the table.  It needs only some grated parmesan cheese on top and pasta on the side.  But it’s not the healthiest of dishes since the traditional version calls for the eggplant to be fried before it meets the cheese and sauce which definitely ups the calories and fat.  So, when I saw Thomas Keller’s video on how they serve eggplant at TAK Room, one of his NYC restaurants, I had to try it.  In his version, the eggplant is cut into cubes and then roasted before mixing with the cheese and sauce. Genius! Nothing to fry and no unwanted calories.  The first time I made it I was sold.  The eggplant shines and even with the added step of roasting, it was a manageable dinner to get on the table during the week.  Keller’s version includes a homemade pomodoro sauce but I used my favorite marinara from Patsy’s to save time.  This is also a great dish to make earlier in the day or even the day before you want to serve.  Just pop it in the oven and in an hour or so you are ready for dinner.  If you love eggplant, give this version a try. 

Ingredients

2                   Medium eggplants

1 tbs              Kosher salt

2 tbs              Olive oil

3 cups           Marinara sauce

1 cup             Shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup Ricotta cheese

½ cup            Grated parmesan cheese

¼ cup            Grated romano cheese

Directions

Peel the eggplants and remove the ends.  Dice the eggplant into one-inch cubes.  Toss the eggplant in the olive oil and salt; set aside for at least 30 minutes but no more than one hour to allow the salt to extract some of the bitterness.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Once the eggplant has rested, gently squeeze out any excess moisture with your hands. Place the squeezed eggplant on a foil and parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Roast for 30 minutes at 400. While the eggplant cooks, combine the parmesan, mozzerella and romano cheeses in a bowl and set aside.

When the eggplant is done, place in a large bowl with two cups of marinara sauce, half of the cheese mixture and the ricotta cheese .  Mix until well combined. 

Pour the eggplant mixture into the prepared casserole dish about two inches deep. Top with the remaining marinara sauce and cheese mixture, bake at 400 until it is bubbling, about 25-30 minutes. 

You can put it under the broiler for a minute or two if you want to get some color on top but don’t walk away or it will burn in the blink of an eye.  

Baked - not fried - eggplant parmigiana is the way to go for a hearty, but healthier, dinner.

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