Every Christmas, we inevitably find ourselves with a gift card to Olive Garden. We rarely eat outside of home, but going out for some American-Italian goodness is turning into one of my favorite post-holiday rituals because I get to watch Duff nearly drown himself in the abyss of never-ending salad and bread sticks.
One of our favorite entrées is the eggplant parmesan, and after it’s all said and done, we occasionally find ourselves craving the restaurant fare without wanting to pay the restaurant price to our health and wallets just to put it in our bellies. Or to get out of our pajamas. I struggle with the reckless abandon of eating food that’s made with ingredients and a process that’s unknown to me…. but I never beat myself up over hanging out in my pajamas! So with some trial-and-error, I finally found a great recipe for making some special eggplant parmesan at home, using a few simple ingredients at a third of the price! Nothing beats eating some delicious food in the comfort of your own home and sweatpants, am I right? But what’s great about this eggplant parmesan is it’s also a great dish for a special dinner as well; it’s sure to impress your loved ones, and everyone gets to avoid the restaurant crowds without draining their bank accounts.
What I really enjoy about this dish is how well it can stand alone as an entrée with some salad and bread, or pair well with other foods like meat, fish, and/or some vegetables. On top of that, it’s a great way to get the purple in your rainbow of nutrients — I find that’s hard to do! It takes a little time, but it’s well worth the effort.
It seems unnecessary, but you want it to be as dry as possible. It will help keep the eggplant from getting mushy, and prevent the liquid in the eggplant from causing the hot oil to pop everywhere when you fry it. That’s a mess to clean and an injury waiting to happen.
I use the lightest coating of oil as possible — one way to cut the fat and calories that you can’t avoid when you go out to eat!
And if you’re me and find yourself running low on cheese, it comes out glistening. Shining through a fog of deliciousness.
I like this served up with some sautéed kale and garlic. But like I said before, it can rock your socks off as a main dish or as a delectable side to your favorite protein. No matter what, it’s an inexpensive dish that’s light and flavorful — and hey, it’s your party and you can stay in your PJs! Stay in your PJs, stay in your PJs…
- 1 lb. eggplant, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 cups tomato sauce*
- 2 tablespoons olive oil + extra for frying
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
- Slice the eggplant thinly (approximately 1/4 inch).
- Place the slices in a colander, salt them lightly, and allow them to drain for about 30 minutes.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Once eggplant slices have drained, dredge each slice in flour, then dip it into the egg.
- Fry the eggplant until golden-brown on both sides, approximately 3 minutes on each side. Place on a plate lined with cloth or paper towels to drain excess oil.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Pour a thin layer of tomato sauce over the bottom of a baking dish, then beginning layering the ingredients. Arrange a layer of eggplant slices, drizzle with olive oil, cover with mozzarella and tomato sauce, then sprinkle with Parmesan. Continue layering until you reach the last layer of eggplant slices.
- Top the last layer of slices with the remaining tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese.
- Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown and bubbly.
- *Use your favorite tomato sauce, or 1 14-oz. can. Check the label and aim for something that's strictly tomatoes and spices; many brands have added sugar and you want to avoid that!