A passion for purple
It seems people either love eggplant or they don’t. I love it, especially baked eggplant marinara! I love the rich, dark purple color and its smooth, shiny skin. I love the fact that — if you can get them growing where you live — once planted, they’ll likely surprise you with their magic and produce way more than you could imagine. If you have friends or family who grow them they’ll probably pass several on to you to enjoy. Case in point: when I got home from a recent trip to visit my family, I discovered that a few from my Uncle Tom’s garden somehow made their way into my suitcase. (I usually take my time unpacking…good thing I was on the ball this time…can you imagine?!)
Look forward to the leftovers!
Eggplants are versatile for vegetarian meals, and there are so many ways to prepare them. Growing up in an Italian household, I’m used to eating them breaded and baked with a great marinara sauce (the more garlic the better). For my mom, the preferred preparation method is to pan fry them first before baking them. Granted, they’re delicious made that way, but they’re just as tasty if you simply bake them. Plus it’ll make you feel less guilty about enjoying them with fresh cheese!
One of my favorite ways to eat baked eggplant marinara is as a leftover, cold and straight out of the fridge. If you can make it past just plating them and digging in, try serving them on a slice of crunchy Italian bread with a slice of provolone cheese. I’m drooling…
Recipe for Baked Eggplant Marinara:
Serves 6 people
- 1 medium-sized eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch round slices
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3/4 cup flour
- 2 cups Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs (maybe more if you run low when breading)
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese
- 2 cups of marinara sauce (a bit more to use when serving)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Red pepper flakes (to season the marinara sauce)
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
- After you slice the eggplant into 1/4-inch rounds, you'll want to salt them to drain off some of their liquid, which helps to eliminate bitterness. Place the slices in a colander over the sink and sprinkle them with salt. Allow them to remain in the colander for about 30 minutes, then pat them dry with paper towels.
- In a shallow bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together and set aside.
- In another shallow bowl add the flour, salt and pepper, and set aside.
- In a third shallow bowl, add the breadcrumbs mixed together with 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, and set aside with the others.
- Spread about 1/4 cup of the marinara sauce across the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan, or enough to coat the bottom, and set aside.
- Gather your shallow bowls together in the same area as your baking sheets. First dip the eggplant slices in the flour mixture and cover both sides. Next, dredge them in the egg and milk mixture and allow the excess liquid to drip off, and finally coat them on both sides in the breadcrumb/Parmesan mixture.
- Arrange each of the eggplant slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. You'll need two baking sheets.
- Bake for about 10 minutes, then flip them over for another 10 minutes, until they become golden.
- Remove, set aside and lower your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Add the eggplant slices to your prepared baking dish. To the top of the first layer, add some of the marinara sauce to lightly cover them. Double layer the slices, overlapping, if you have too many slices for a single layer.
- When all the slices are in the baking pan, top them with about 3/4 cup of marinara sauce and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.
- Bake, covered w/ aluminum foil for about 15 minutes. Remove the pan, top the slices with the Mozzarella cheese, and put them back in the oven, uncovered, for another 10-15 minutes until the eggplant slices are cooked, and the cheese is bubbly.
- Serve warm, served with extra sauce.