I don't remember every really loving "Eggplant Parm Night" growing up. Something about the flavor of the veggie just didn't sit well with me and left me with the same dread as the ever-scary "Meatloaf Night". Thankfully my taste buds evolved over time and I gave the pretty purple thing another try. It's hearty and filling and a good alternative to that chicken you've had in your freezer for 9 months (yeah, I see you...). I went the baking route with this one to avoid the excess oil from frying (and I find that eggplant gets very soggy when it's fried). I'm happy to say that this recipe was a complete redemption from my last catastrophe!
2-3 eggs, beat
1-2 jars marinara sauce (My absolute favorite sauce brand right now is Barilla. I used the "Basilico" variety for this recipe and it's just the right amount of sweet and savory!)
a few basil leaves
2-3 cups (or 1 1/2 bags) part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
salt & pepper
Preheat oven for 350 degrees. Set up a conveyor belt with a bowl of breadcrumbs and the beaten eggs. Peel and slice eggplant into 1-1/2 in. slices and begin to dip into the eggs, then the breadcrumbs, and place slices on a sprayed baking sheet. (Be sure to drain all of the excess egg mix off of the eggplant...you just want it wet enough to coat the pieces in breadcrumbs.) Bake for 5-7 min on each side until slightly tender.
the first layer...
While eggplant is baking, line a casserole or baking dish with a thin spreading of marinara sauce. Once eggplant is done in the oven, transfer a layer of it over the sauce in the baking dish, then add more sauce, basil leaves, and cheese. Repeat order once. Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes.
I SWEAR there is a vegetable under all that cheese...