Growing up, my family ate dinner together every night. At 6pm, we’d all be at the table – my sister, dad, and I – ready and hungry for the meal that my mom had spent her afternoon preparing. As a family, we rarely ate fast food or processed foods – it was important to my mom that dinner was cooked from scratch. Tomato sauce never came from a jar because she kept stockpiles of homemade sauce on hand, and cheese was never pre-shredded because convenience foods like that were simply not worth the extra expense.
Dinnertime was a sound routine for all of us… unless it was summertime. In the summer, my sister and I had more important matters at hand. We had to keep lookout for the ice cream man, hold swing set jumping contests, and run relays in our jelly shoes. When my mom would call us in for dinner, we’d rush in and eat fast, so we could get back outside to continue our play. Food was fine, but play was life. That is, unless the meal she was cooking was lasagna or eggplant Parmesan. The amazing waft of saucy, cheesy goodness coming out of the oven was something to really get excited about… even if it meant coming in and savoring it for a few extra minutes before going back out to play.
When Sub Zero, Wolf, and Cove asked me what living deliciously means to me, my mom’s eggplant Parmesan and those warm summer family memories immediately came to mind. Inspired by my mother, I’ve recreated her recipe below adding my own little twists here and there.
My Eggplant Parmesan Recipe
Now that eggplant’s in peak season, it’s the perfect time to develop an eggplant Parmesan recipe of my own. The result is a delicious, lighter ode to my mom’s classic recipe.
Just like my mom, I make my own marinara sauce by simmering crushed tomatoes over my Wolf cooktop for about 20 minutes. Then, for fresh, herbaceous flavor, I add generous pinches of oregano and thyme to the eggplant’s Parmesan and panko coating. Instead of frying the breaded eggplant slices, I bake them until nicely crisp and golden brown. Finally, I layer them with the homemade marinara sauce and slices of fresh mozzarella. And of course, I can’t resist topping the whole thing with big leaves of basil from our garden once it’s out of the oven!
How to Make Eggplant Parmesan
Ready to make eggplant parm? Here’s what you need to do:
- Bread the eggplant. Mix together the herb, Parmesan and panko coating in one shallow dish, and whisk 2 eggs with a dash of almond milk in another. Dip each eggplant slice into the egg mixture before tossing it in the panko. Make sure the eggplant is well-coated on all sides!
- Bake the eggplant. Spread the breaded eggplant slices onto 2 large parchment-lined baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 400 until tender and golden brown. If you have a convection setting on your oven, I highly recommend using it here. When I use convection bake on our Wolf oven, the panko gets deliciously browned and crisp. I don’t miss the traditional fried eggplant at all!
- Layer it up! Spread some tomato sauce in the bottom of a large casserole dish. Add a layer of eggplant slices, more marinara, and half the sliced mozzarella. Repeat the layers, finishing it off with any remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
- Bake! Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is starting to bubble. Then, turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes, so the cheese starts to brown in places.
- Garnish & serve. Let the hot eggplant Parmesan rest for a few minutes before slicing & serving. Then, top it with fresh basil leaves and dig in!
Eggplant Parmesan Recipe Tips
- Slice your eggplant as evenly as you can. Even slices mean even cooking, so try to cut your eggplant slices to a consistent width. You don’t want some pieces to overcook before others get tender! The same goes for the fresh mozzarella – cut it to a consistent thickness to get even melting and browning.
- Freshly grate your Parmesan cheese. Your eggplant Parmesan will have more flavor if you get a nice chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano (or even pecorino cheese) and grate it yourself.
- Get a nice, thick panko coating on your eggplant. In this recipe, some of the best texture and flavor come from the mix of panko, Parmesan, herbs, and red pepper flakes, so don’t skimp on that yummy crispy coating!
- Don’t forget the olive oil! Make sure to drizzle your breaded eggplant slices with oil before they go in the oven. It’s essential for getting the panko nicely golden brown & crisp.
- Season between the layers. The overall seasoning of your eggplant Parmesan will depend on what marinara and Parmesan cheese you use. With my homemade marinara sauce, I like to add a sprinkle of salt and a few grinds of pepper between the layers of eggplant & cheese so that the final dish comes out well-seasoned.
Baked Eggplant Parmesan Serving Suggestions
This eggplant Parmesan recipe is hearty enough to be a meal on its own, but if you’re looking for something to go with it, you can’t go wrong with pasta (or spaghetti squash in place of pasta) or good crusty bread. When I make it for friends or family gatherings, I also like to pair it with a simple veggie side dish like lemon green beans, roasted cauliflower, roasted tomatoes, or grilled zucchini, or any of these summer salads:
- Summer Panzanella Salad
- Classic Caprese Salad
- Burrata with Heirloom Tomatoes
- Strawberry Salad with Avocado
- Cherry Tomato Couscous Salad
- Fennel & Peach Salad with Mint & Pesto
If you love this baked eggplant Parmesan recipe…