Easy Eggplant Parmesan with Roasted Eggplant
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This is my favorite way to make eggplant parmesan. There’s no salting, no breading, no frying, no fussing. The eggplant is roasted and layered with a homemade tomato-basil sauce and parmesan. An irresistible bread crumb layer tops it all off! This is summer comfort food at its best! 🍆🍆🍆🍆🍆🍆
Monday’s Cooking newsletter brought to my attention an old Marian Burros recipe for eggplant parmesan adapted from a recipe in Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italy. The recipe omits breading and frying the eggplant, calling for roasting instead.
On Wednesday, using one eggplant from Tuesday’s CSA and one very tired eggplant from several weeks ago, I followed Burros’s recipe, roasting a sheet pan of eggplant slices at high heat for 35 minutes, then layering the slices in a gratin dish with homemade sauce and parmesan cheese, topping it all off with a mix of fresh bread crumbs, parmesan and olive oil.
After 25 minutes in the oven, the gratin emerged bubbling and golden and tasted utterly delicious.
Two Tips for Excellent Eggplant Parmesan
- Homemade tomato sauce. In place of canned San Marzano tomatoes, as the original recipe calls for. I use my favorite quick tomato-basil sauce. Every time I make this sauce, I am astounded by its simplicity and flavor: sweet, fresh, bright. You can make this sauce start to finish in the time it takes to roast the eggplant.
- In place of dried bread crumbs for the topping, I use fresh. I use the same topping I use in this recipe, super easy summer squash gratin, whose bread crumb topping I love: 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, 1/3 cup grated parmesan, 2 tablespoons oil, pinch salt and pepper.
As you know, I love the Cook’s Illustrated eggplant parmesan, which simplifies the process of eggplant parmesan by oven-frying the breaded slices of eggplant on preheated baking sheets. The rounds emerge crisp and golden and are completely irresistible.
How does this recipe compare? If you are a fan of the crispy-gone-soggy effect, the Cook’s Illustrated recipe is a must make. The eggplant parmesan is more akin to a gratin than a casserole. The rounds taste creamy and melt into each other, the only crispness coming from the topping. This one is a little lighter — no mozzarella here — though it won’t feed as many people.
Finally, the Cook’s Illustrated recipe is something, I think, for an occasion, a labor of love; this one’s for right now, something you could throw together quickly as opposed to saving for the weekend. Both are delicious. If you love eggplant, you can’t go wrong.
Here’s the play-by-play: Gather some eggplant.
Slice it thinly. Season it with salt and pepper. Dress it with olive oil. Roast it till …
…it’s beginning to brown and caramelize.
Gather the eggplant parmesan components: tomato sauce, grated parmesan, and fresh bread crumbs.
Season the bread crumbs with olive oil, parmesan, salt, and pepper.
Begin the layering:
Top with the layer of bread crumbs:
Bake until golden:Print
Adapted from this NYTimes recipe via Jamie Oliver
For the eggplant parmesan:
- 3 medium eggplants or 6 small eggplants, about 3 1/2 to 4 lbs. cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 cup (3 ounces roughly) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- red pepper tomato sauce (recipe below, or whatever tomato sauce you love)
For the tomato-basil sauce:
- 2 red bell peppers, stemmed and seeded, diced to yield about 2 cups
- 2 beefsteak tomatoes, diced to yield about 2 cups
- kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line two baking sheets — I love these extra-large baking sheets for this — with parchment (if you wish) then drizzle some oil over top and spread out with your hand. Lay the eggplant slices in a single layer. Season generously with salt and pepper. Flip the slices, season with salt and pepper. Drizzle more olive oil over top. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven, flip slices, bake for 15 more minutes. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.
- Meanwhile, toss the 2 cups bread crumbs with 1/3 cup of the grated parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Into a 9×13-inch baking dish, spoon a small amount of sauce, then a single layer of eggplant, then a thin layer of parmesan. Repeat the layering until all of the eggplant and cheese has been used, ending with a little sauce. Top with the bread crumb mixture.
- Bake until eggplant mixture is bubbly and top is golden, 25 minutes or so depending on size of pan and thickness of layers. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Recipe can also be reheated.
To make the sauce: Place peppers and tomatoes in a medium-sized saucepan or pot. Pour in 1/2 cup water and turn heat to high. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, then turn heat down to medium high. Set a timer for 25 minutes. After about five minutes, the tomatoes and peppers will begin to release their juices, and the whole mixture should be bubbling. Adjust the heat if necessary so that the mixture stays at a constant bubble — medium to medium-high should do it. Stir every five minutes or so to make sure the tomatoes and peppers are not sticking to the bottom of the pan. If they are, add water by the 1/4 cup.
When the peppers and tomatoes are tender and nearly all of the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes and peppers are beginning to stick to pot, add the basil, butter, and oil to the pot, give it a stir, then transfer the contents of the pot to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Taste. Adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper as necessary.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Italian, American
Keywords: eggplant, parmesan, easy, no-fuss, tomato, sauce, homemade, bell peppers