Eggplant is one of those much beloved and much hated vegetables. I think that for people who hate eggplant, it's all about the texture. And for people who love eggplant, it's all about the texture. Learning to cook eggplant properly results in people loving eggplant, as far as I can tell.
If it's cooked in too much liquid, eggplant can become rubbery and chewy, the dreaded "walrus meat" texture. Ick. When cooked with olive oil and roasted at a high heat, eggplant magically becomes soft as butter, smooth, and mellow tasting.
Eggplant parmesan in the oven can be tricky because the eggplant can dry out, but I've found a method that works pretty well. So here it is! You will need: an eggplant, panko bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic powder, Italian herb seasoning, and salt.
In a bowl, combine 1/2 c. parmesan cheese, 1/2 c. panko crumbs, 1 t. garlic powder, 1/2 t. Italian herbs, and 1/2 t. salt.
Peel and slice the eggplant in 1/2 inch thick slices. Place them on a plate, and sprinkle with salt on both sides. Allow them to sit for 10-15 minutes. This causes them to "sweat" out some of their liquid, which will remove any bitter taste from the the eggplant, and also make the crumbs stick to them better.
You can see from my photo that I've peeled my eggplant by slicing off the peels with my knife. It resulted in hexagon slices rather than perfect circles, but it also made the process that much faster! I'm always one for making my prep time quicker if I can.
Next, dip the slices into the crumb mixture. You can press crumbs onto each slice to help them stick. Lay the slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil. I also distributed the remainder of my crumbs onto the top of each slice.
Be generous with the olive oil! I would say I used 1-2 teaspoons of oil on each slice. I've yet to find a "low fat" method of cooking eggplant that works. This is a vegetable that loves its olive oil. They are a perfect pair. However, this method still uses less fat than deep frying.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Check the eggplant frequently, as you want to remove it just when it's golden brown. I've found that oven times can vary on this.
Voila! This method results in eggplant that is super crispy on the outside, buttery soft on the inside, and just perfect. You can serve it with pasta and marinara sauce, or just a simple salad for a lighter meal.
I'm a school librarian, cookbook author, and longtime fan of food and literature. Welcome to my blog!