Cheesy Eggplant Parmesan: A Comforting Classic with a Gourmet Twist

Cheesy Eggplant Parmesan: A Comforting Classic with a Gourmet Twist

Cheesy Eggplant Parmesan is a delicious, hearty dish perfect for any comfort food craving. This Italian classic consists of crispy fried eggplant slices layered with savory marinara sauce, gooey mozzarella, and grated Parmesan cheese. Baked to perfection, this dish offers a delightful combination of textures and flavors that will have you coming back for seconds.

Ingredients:

– 2 large eggplants
– 2 cups marinara sauce
– 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
– 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 3 large eggs
– 1 ½ cups Italian-style breadcrumbs
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon black pepper
– 1 teaspoon dried oregano
– 1 teaspoon garlic powder
– 1 teaspoon basil leaves (fresh or dried)
– Olive oil for frying
– Fresh basil leaves for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

1. **Prepare the Eggplants:**
– Wash and slice the eggplants into 1/4-inch thick rounds.
– Sprinkle salt on both sides of each slice and place them on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Allow them to sit for about 30 minutes to draw out excess moisture. Pat them dry with additional paper towels.

2. **Bread the Eggplant Slices:**
– Set up three shallow bowls: one with flour, one with beaten eggs, and one with breadcrumbs mixed with salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder.
– Dredge each eggplant slice in flour, then dip it in the beaten eggs, and finally coat it with the breadcrumb mixture. Press gently to ensure the breadcrumbs adhere well.

3. **Fry the Eggplant Slices:**
– Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
– Fry the breaded eggplant slices in batches, cooking each side until golden brown (about 2-3 minutes per side).
– Remove and drain the fried slices on paper towels.

4. **Assemble the Casserole:**
– Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
– Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of a baking dish.
– Place a layer of fried eggplant slices over the sauce.
– Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese over the eggplant.
– Repeat the layers (marinara sauce, eggplant, cheeses) until all ingredients are used, ending with a top layer of cheese.

5. **Bake the Parmesan:**
– Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.
– Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

6. **Serve and Garnish:**
– Let the dish cool for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
– Garnish with fresh basil leaves, if desired.

Enjoy your delightful Cheesy Eggplant Parmesan, brimming with comforting flavors and gourmet appeal!