Lasagna-Style Eggplant Parmesan

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Most young children do not jump up and down when they hear that Eggplant is what’s for dinner. This child did, and it’s because my mom makes a killer eggplant Parmesan. Most restaurant versions of this dish only have mozzarella and (of course) Parmesan cheese. My Mom’s version, however, has a layer of herbed ricotta as well. Not to mention the glorious sauce.

Growing up, my Mom always asked us what we wanted our special birthday dinner to be. 9 times out of 10, this eggplant Parm was my choice. Of all the delicious things my Mom cooked growing up, this was almost always my meal of choice when I was given the option of anything I could possibly want. That should tell you how amazing this dish is.

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Just look at those crispy layers of heaven! This dish is so sinfully cheesy and rich that you don’t miss the meat for a second. The fried slices of eggplant are layered with all three cheeses and the heavenly marinara in little towers. Everyone gets their own leaning tower of cheesy, savory, melt-in-your-mouth eggplant—yes please!  If you need an impressive, hearty meal for a crowd, this dish is your go-to.

This would be an excellent time to pull homemade sauce from the freezer. It makes the whole dish so much easier if you already have your sauce done. All you have to do is fry up your eggplant, layer it with cheese and sauce, cook some pasta, and bam! Dinner is done.

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Lasagna-style Eggplant Parmesan

Serves 6-8

2 medium/large eggplants, peeled and sliced in 0.5 inch rounds

2 eggs beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

½ cup sunflower or vegetable oil (You may need more throughout the frying process)

2 cups flour

2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs

1 batch of Mom’s Spaghetti Sauce 

½ cup fresh Italian Parsley, chopped

15 oz. whole-milk Ricotta cheese

8 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 lb pasta, for serving

Fresh basil, for serving

Directions:

  1. Lay the slices of eggplant on top of a few paper towels on a counter top or table. Sprinkle salt over each slice and let them “sweat” for about an hour. This will draw excess moisture out of the eggplant.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Prep your breading station: In three shallow dishes, line up the flour, beaten eggs, and breadcrumbs.
  4. Heat the sunflower oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Dip each slice of eggplant first in flour, then in egg, then in the breadcrumbs. Fry the eggplant in the oil in batches, about 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown. You may need to add more oil as you are frying if the skillet starts to look dry. Place the finished slices on a paper-towel lined cookie sheet.
  5. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta cheese with the parsley and a good pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  6. You will want a deep casserole dish to layer your eggplant. In the bottom of the casserole dish, spread out a ladle full of sauce to coat the bottom of the dish.
  7. Cover the layer of sauce with a layer of eggplant slices. Top the eggplant with dollops of ricotta, slices of mozzarella, and sprinkles of Parmesan. There is not an exact science here; there is just a LOT of cheese that you want to distribute over the eggplant!
  8. Top the eggplant slices with another layer of sauce. Repeat the layering process until you have stacks that are 3-4 eggplants high (can we make this an official new form of measurement?) and finish with a final layer of sauce.
  9. Cover the casserole dish with either a lid or aluminum foil. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the lid/foil and continue to bake for another 30 minutes uncovered.
  10. Serve the eggplant with the pasta of your choice and the remaining sauce. Top with fresh basil.

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