How To Cook Eggplant Parm With Charm

Eggplant Parmesan is a vegetarian’s dream. Crunchy and filling, yet approachable and diet-friendly, we love cooking it in the late summer and early fall when eggplants and tomatoes have are peaking in flavor. A perfectly prepared eggplant with fresh tomato sauce is a truly mesmerizing combination. However, cooking eggplant parmesan is often easier said than done. Batches can come out with a soggy texture or oily flavor if prepared incorrectly, leading some to avoid the dish entirely. Protect the good name of eggplant parm with these techniques.

Prime Preparation

It’s important to set yourself up for success before you even start cooking. Choose larger eggplants in order to get properly sized slices. Shoot for slices that are roughly a 1/2 inch thick, as this should help the eggplant keep flavor without burning. Try cutting lengthwise to get bigger pieces of eggplant, as they’ll withstand the cooking process much better.

Salt or Not?

Many chefs encourage salting in order to limit bitterness, but that quality has been breed out’ve most eggplant, making it an oftentimes unnecessary process.  If you do decide to salt your eggplant, only let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour.

  • Pro Tip:  Always make sure your eggplant is dry before cooking, as excess moisture can lead to a mushy mess.

 Classic Cooking

When your eggplant is ready to be cooked, there are a few different ways to approach it. Unsurprisingly, the traditional Italian method seems to work the best. Pan frying brings a beautiful caramelization that isn’t present when you roast or bake it. Be gentle with your olive oil though, as too much will hurt the overall quality of the dish when it goes into the oven.

Stay Crumby 

Greater control over your dish is always a good thing. Make the move away from pre-flavored breadcrumbs and season them yourself. This is a great opportunity to double down on classic flavors, and we’d recommend covering your breadcrumbs in finely grated parmesan, along with Italian spices such as oregano and rosemary.

  • Pro Tip: If you’re in a rush, try running panko breadcrumbs through your food processor. Watch the consistency, as it is key to the success of your breadcrumbs. You’ll want fine, powdery breadcrumbs for best results.

Sauce Boss

You need to maintain a delicate balance when it comes to sauce.. Over-saucing will cause your eggplant parm to get soupy and messy. On the other hand, no one wants an under-sauced disappointment. If you’re more focused on the eggplant being the star, we’d recommend keeping light saucing. For a greater union of flavor, trying baking your sauce in the oven as apposed to cooking it in a pan. This technique diminishes the internal moisture of the sauce, preventing a drastic change in texture.

Layer Up

When layering your eggplant parmesan, make sure you follow the same order. If you Layer like you would a lasagna, you’re on the right track. For example, sauce, eggplant, cheese, and repeat is a good general order to follow.