Eggplant Parmesan Casserole
An Italian classic comfort food done right! Baked crispy eggplant layered with all-you-want-in Eggplant Parmesan toppings and bubbling cheese.
Eggplant Parmesan Lasagna or Casserole is an Italian comfort dish made with layers of breaded eggplant slices, marinara sauce, basil, mozzarella and parmesan cheese, and then baked until cheese has melted and bubbly.
Honestly, this casserole is my rendezvous with comfort food. To take lots of oil and fat out of this classic casserole.. I like to use baked breaded eggplant slices instead of fried. Few weeks ago when I shared single-serve Skinny Eggplant Parmesan.. I used one part of the eggplant slices to layer in casserole.. Those I baked on a later day for weeknight meal and my family just loved it.
So, I thought why not I share this delicious idea with you too.
Honestly, I'm no Italian but this is how I got introduced to eggplant parm. Long ago, our friend recommended us to eat in a family-run Italian restaurant and I ordered eggplant parm (as usual). This is how the dish came from the kitchen. Cut out part of a casserole (not single serves) just like lasagna with thick layer of melted mozzarella and generous dusting of parmesan cheese.
Oh man! I still remember that dinner.. specially because that day I even not cared to eat scoop some Italian table-side bread with herb-olive oil.. It was That delicious.
After that, we moved to another area (perks of apartment living) and ordered eggplant parm in an various other restaurant since then... Surprisingly, everyone serves it single-serve style. At first, I was devastated because I wanted that comforting feel which original casserole has to offer... Initially, I even returned back the plate saying this is not how eggplant parmesan is cooked! lol! So, the chef came out and shared why everyone does not make casserole because it is easier to assemble and serve on-demand rather than keeping a casserole hanging around.
Okay I get it!!
So, these days whenever I cook eggplant parmesan at home.. I make two versions. A part as single-serve just like that chef said. Easy to to assemble and serve. And one part as Casserole (specially in fall-winter season) to enjoy a comforting family-dinner. Since it is just two of us, we often take leftovers for lunch next day.
So, chances are you have only had single-serve stacked slices like more restaurants sell. But if you had chances to eat in a family-run authentic Italian eatery. you know the comfort of this casserole.
Why Baked and Not Fried?
Well, in authentic versions eggplant is often fried instead of baked. But I don't like baked just because it is healthier and uses almost no oil. I also like it because it saves me lot of time. Once all eggplant slices are breaded... It takes 2 minute to put them on a baking tray and set to bake. 20 minutes at 425 and eggplant is crispy and ready to rock whatever way you want to eat it. Vs frying will need a lot of time, and batches, then oil draining... so and so on... You get it, right?
Plus if something makes life easier and is also healthier! I would say, I'm in! Aren't you?
For eggplant casserole, once eggplant is ready, I oil-spray a deep glass baking dish. Then, layer baked eggplant, slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and spicy marinara sauce just like you would layer a lasagna. I make sure to finish with cheese layer and some marinara to protect eggplant from direct heat and also to melt cheese on the top. That's is all this dish is about - meaty eggplant cozy with marinara and topped with warm gooey cheese.. comfort dinner at it's best and still vegetarian.
Make-Ahead: I often bake some extra eggplant, layer and freeze the casserole for weeknight meal.
Opening week with this comforting vegetarian meal. I hope you will try and enjoy.
Serve a lite salad on the side:
Eggplant Parmesan Casserolereview) (1
- 1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices and spread on a wire rack. Season both sides with salt and leave aside for 1 hour to drain as much water as possible.
- 2. While slices draining, prepare dredge station with flour, breadcrumb and egg (with 1 tbsp milk) in three separate bowls. Season egg and flour with salt and black pepper. Don't add salt to breadcrumbs since these are already seasoned. Additional Notes: If using plain breadcrumbs, add salt, black pepper and 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning.
- 3. Once water drained from eggplant, whip extra salt from slices and pat dry.
- 4. Add eggplant to brown bag or a container with lid, top with flour, close lid and shake well to dredge.
- 5. Dip each slice in egg wash then press on breadcrumbs and place of prepared baking sheet. Repeat this step for add flour dredged slices. Drizzle or spray oil on eggplant slices.
- 6. Bake in preheated oven for 20-22 minutes until eggplant is crispy and brown from all sides. Turn then once halfway through cooking for even browning. Once ready, place baked eggplant on wire rack until it is cool to touch.
- 7. To assemble casserole, spread 2-3 tbsp marinara sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Top with 1/2 slices of eggplant, followed by half of slices mozzarella, half of parmesan, and 1/2 cup of marinara.
- 8. Top with more layer of each eggplant, parmesan, mozzarella, basil and marinara. finishing with marinara. Bake in preheated oven at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes until cheese is bubbling.
- 9. Once ready, leave aside for 5-10 minutes for layers to set. Slice and serve with your choice of pasta. Enjoy!
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