This easy Baked Eggplant Parmesan is a lightened-up version of the original fried Italian casserole, and is perfect for both weeknight dinners and Date Night!
There’s a little Italian restaurant close to where the husband’s parents live, and every single time we go, the server hears something like this:
“I’ll have the Eggplant Parmesan without the pasta.”
“I’ll have the Eggplant Parmesan with penne.”
“I’ll have the Eggplant Parmesan but I’m sharing with him.”
We are predictable people.
As tasty as this fried veggie concoction is, when I make it at home, I try to make it healthier. This Baked Eggplant Parmesan has less grease, and lets the eggplant shine through.
Do I Really Have to Peel the Eggplant?
No, but the skin will toughen while you bake it. So, if you don’t peel your eggplant, there’s a decent chance that you’ll need a knife to cut through it when you’re eating.
This might not be a big deal, but it also seems to toughen even more if you’re reheating leftover Eggplant Parmesan. So, if you– like me– tend to bring leftovers to work for lunch, and also regularly forget to pack a table knife, you could find yourself wishing you’d peeled that eggplant.
You have been warned.
How Do You Sweat the Eggplant? Can I Skip That Part?
As hilarious as it would be, sweating an eggplant doesn’t involve making the vegetables run around the park, or even cranking the heat up in your house. Instead, you sprinkle salt on your sliced eggplant, set the slices in a colander with a towel over the top, and walk away.
I highly, highly recommend sweating the eggplant. Since you’ll be baking the eggplant, you want to get as much moisture out as possible to make sure they crisp up in the oven.
How to Make Baked Eggplant Parmesan
To make this baked Eggplant Parmesan, dip the (pre-sweated) eggplant slices in a beaten egg, and then into a breadcrumb and Parmesan cheese mixture. Toast the slices until the breadcrumbs are golden and the eggplant has cooked through.
(I like to “taste test” one of the eggplant slices at this point, just to make sure they’re crispy enough.)
Next, layer some pasta sauce in a baking dish, then add a layer of eggplant, then a layer of cheese, then eggplant, and finish with a final layer of pasta sauce and freshly grated Parmesan. Bake the casserole for about 20 minutes, and then serve it with pasta, bread, or a green salad.
Want more VEGETARIAN DATE NIGHT ideas? Try these:
Want more VEGETARIAN MAINS? Try these:
Baked Eggplant Parmesan
- 1 large eggplant, peeled + thinly sliced
- 3 tsp salt, divided
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup breadcrumbs (or more if needed)
- 4 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 green onions, diced
- 2 cups tomato sauce (1/2 28oz pasta sauce jar)
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta OR whole milk (4%) small-curd cottage cheese
Sweating the Eggplant:
- Lightly salt both sides of eggplant slices with about 2 tsp of salt, and layer slices in a colander. Set colander in the sink, and cover with a towel. Let sit for at least an hour, or up to three hours.
- Pat the eggplant dry.
Baking the Eggplant:
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil. (If using foil, spray or brush the foil with olive oil.)
- Add half the Parmesan cheese, all of the breadcrumbs, and the remaining 1 tsp salt to a bowl, and stir to combine. The beaten egg should be in a different bowl, right next to the breadcrumb mixture.
- One at a time, dip eggplant slices in egg and then in breadcrumbs, coating both sides.
Note: If you have trouble getting the breadcrumbs to stick, simply dip the eggplant in egg and then sprinkle the crumbs on top. Skip flipping the eggplant. (This may happen if your eggplant slices are still moist, especially with homemade breadcrumbs or larger Panko breadcrumbs.)
- Set eggplant in single layer on baking sheets, and bake 5-7 minutes, flip, and bake 5-7 more minutes (10-14 minutes total).
Note: The cook time will depend on how thinly you've sliced the eggplant. Watch the eggplant the last few minutes in the oven, and remove when they appear golden and crisp.
- While eggplant is baking, pour half the tomato sauce in a 8"x8" pan (or small casserole dish). Sprinkle half the green onion over the mixture.
- When eggplant is finished baking, layer half of the eggplant on top of the sauce.
- Next, spread the ricotta over the eggplant into one layer. Top the ricotta with the remaining eggplant.
- Add remaining tomato sauce, and top with remaining Parmesan.
- Bake uncovered 20-25 minutes, until the cheese have melted and the eggplant is totally cooked through.
- Before serving, top with the remaining green onion.
- Serve hot along with pasta, crusty bread, or a green salad.
- Make it more traditional: Use 4 oz freshly grated mozzarella instead of ricotta.
- Add more veggies: Dice half an onion and half a sweet bell pepper, and add them to the first tomato sauce layer.
- Add more cheese: This recipe is a lighter Eggplant Parmesan, and uses a little less cheese than you might sometimes find in the dish. Feel free to add more.
Eggplant baking technique adapted from: All Recipes