My Mom makes the best Eggplant Parmesan in the world! Never mushy, bitter or greasy. Just plain perfect. Making this dish is something of an inexact science, from the size of the eggplant to how much sauce you’ll need. But it doesn’t have to be exact for it to work. It’s very forgiving, All you really need is eggplant, mozzarella, and a good sauce. Anything aside from that, like the Italian sausage topping this one is a bonus.
I know that frying the eggplant is a turn-off and can be time-consuming. Not to mention messy. This is an occasional treat for us. You can also grill or roast the eggplant slices. But this is the best way for preventing the mushiness I talked about earlier.
Mama’s Eggplant Parmesan
(courtesy of my Mom)
eggplant (about 1 and 1/2 to 2 pounds)
Sea salt or kosher salt
Italian Sausage 12 ounces
Canola oil, for frying
Seasoned Italian Bread Crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
Home-made sauce or 2 jars prepared
1 pound Mozzarella, shredded
Peel the eggplant and slice crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds. In a large colander layer the eggplant, sprinkling each layer with salt. Let drain while getting the sauce started, about 20 minutes.
1 large onion, diced
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can tomato paste
28 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes (like Tuttarosa)
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons dried Italian Seasonings (We use a mix that has basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram and rosemary in it)
1 teaspoon dried sage
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt (to start and more to taste)
¼ teaspoon black pepper (to start and more to taste)
Pinch of sugar
If adding sausage slice in 1-inch slices. In a large heavy-bottomed pan saute the sausage and onion in Olive Oil until soft; add garlic and saute for another minute or two.
Add tomato paste. Stir it into the onion and garlic mixture and let it heat through. Add tomatoes, water, and seasonings including bay leaves, salt, pepper and pinch of sugar.
Simmer for 30-40 minutes. Taste and add salt/pepper and more dried seasonings if needed. Remove bay leaves before assembling the Parmesan.
While the sauce is simmering fry up your eggplant. Brush off the excess salt with a paper towel at the same time drying off any moisture on the eggplant slices.
In a large, deep-sided skillet add about 1/2 inch of Canola oil, heat on medium. While the oil heats set up the ‘dredging’ station. In a shallow bowl place the egg, and in another shallow bowl breadcrumbs. Dip the eggplant into the egg and then the bread crumbs, shaking off excess. Fry the eggplant slices in batches draining on paper towels. You will need to add more oil as needed. When all the eggplant slices are fried you are ready to assemble.
In a large casserole dish (11×13) start by spraying it with baking spray. Add a thin layer of sauce to cover the bottom. Then a layer of eggplant to cover the bottom, topped with sauce, then mozzarella, and repeating until you reach the top, leaving enough room to finish with a layer of mozzarella covered by the sausage slices. You will most likely have three layers depending on how shallow the casserole dish is.
Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.