Light and Easy Eggplant Parmesan
Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 to 8 as a side dish
I love eggplant. It is one of my favorite vegetables. I usually grow several plants during the summer and I prefer the oriental varieties. They are much more prolific, never bitter, contain less seeds and have a tender skin. As much as I love a traditional Italian-American eggplant parmesan, as in the similar and related recipes links, I created this recipe to eliminate the breading and the frying, making it much lighter and easier to prepare. I have since discovered that this version is much more like eggplant parmesan is made in Italy. It is absolutely delicious and makes a great side dish or vegetarian main dish. Since it is very good hot, warm or at room temperature, it can be made several hours ahead and set aside until serving, and is perfect for a potluck event. The recipe can be made in any amount needed.
- 2 large eggplants, sliced into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices
- Olive oil
- 3 tablespoons dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound fresh or canned tomatoes, chopped (I use no-salt-added)
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil. Sprinkle with some of the oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Place on baking sheet in single layers and place about 6 inches under hot broiler. Broil on one side until browned and tender. (If the eggplant gets too brown before getting tender, flip the slices to brown the other side. However, browning of both sides is not necessary.) Brown the remaining slices in the same manner.
When the eggplant is done, preheat oven to 400° F. Lightly grease a 13x9x2-inch casserole dish with olive oil or olive oil spray. Spread just enough of the tomatoes in the bottom to cover lightly (this will prevent the bottom layer of eggplant from burning). Add a single layer of the eggplant slices. Top with a light layer of tomatoes. Sprinkle with some of the minced garlic and a little more oregano. Top with some of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Continue the process, ending with Parmesan cheese on top. (Each layer of tomatoes should be sprinkled with a little salt and pepper, unless you are using canned tomatoes with salt.) Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Uncover and bake an additional 5 minutes if more browning is desired. Serve hot, warm or room temperature.
Notes: The eggplants can be browned on a grill or in a grill pan. If you prefer a milder garlic taste, roast the garlic cloves or microwave the minced garlic in a little oil for about 30 seconds, depending on microwave wattage, before using in the casserole. As for leftovers, this makes a delicious sandwich, room temperature, on good Italian-style bread, with or without a slice of extra sharp provolone, asiago or Italian fontina cheese.