Eggplant Parmesan is one of my favorite dishes. I love all the layers of Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses that make this dish so gooey and cheesy. And, of course, since I’m a big tomato fan and enjoy any kind of marinara or spaghetti sauces, this is also a favorite for that reason, too. We make this a lot for Meatless Monday dishes, but it’s also a great side dish. The nice thing about this dish is you can make it in the quantities you want. If you’re having more people over to dinner, slice up some more eggplant, add a little more sauce and a little more cheese. This recipe doesn’t have to be made exactly by the ingredients listed in order to turn out wonderfully.
When I was in my early twenties and newly married I used to work at a church in Largo, Florida. Every Tuesday the pastor held a Men’s Bible Study at the church followed by a wonderful luncheon meal prepared by some of the best cooks in our church. One of those cooks, Betty Wyckoff, made a delicious recipe for Eggplant Parmesan as a side dish for lunch one Tuesday that I absolutely loved. I had NEVER eaten eggplant before that, and I was a little timid in trying it out that first time, but Betty’s Fried Eggplant was one of the BEST side dishes I’d ever eaten. One of Betty’s secrets for making a tasty Eggplant Parmesan was to peel the eggplant. She felt the peel was bitter and added a bad taste to the eggplant, so she always peeled the eggplant before making this fantastic recipe. I hounded Betty several times for the recipe and so she finally wrote down something to appease me! Betty’s handwritten recipe was not very detailed because cooks in those days were so used to whipping up recipes quickly and most of the time the recipe was in their head and not really written down like recipes are these days. But I got the gist of what I was supposed to do and have made her Eggplant Parmesan many times over the years. Betty simply titled her recipe, “Fried Eggplant,” but I’ve changed it to Eggplant Parmesan to better reflect the nature of the dish.
We have served this recipe to company before and everyone loved it. In fact, many people have asked me for the recipe because it’s that good. It’s actually a very simple recipe–nothing fancy–but it just tastes heavenly. Even people who aren’t fans of eggplant love this dish. The key to making this dish well is to make sure you peel the eggplant and then slice it on the thin side. If you slice it too thick you won’t get the eggplant cooked all the way through and it tastes tough. I’ve used Homemade Bread Crumbs with this recipe before because I wanted to try a little healthier version. However, my crumbs were not fine enough for this recipe so they caused the eggplant to be a little too bready or doughy. You can use regular bread crumbs in place of the saltine cracker crumbs in this version if they are fine bread crumbs and not coarse. I’ve used Italian style bread crumbs, too.
If you’re looking for a delicious Eggplant Parmesan recipe, I can certainly testify that this one is superb. It’s also very filling and satisfying enough as a main dish. Add a salad and some homemade bread and you’re good to go.
Eggplant Parmesan is a great dish to make if you are observing Meatless Mondays.
This dish is so hearty and filling you can use it for a main dish as well as a side dish.
Here’s a look at all the cheesy goodness!
I use a lot of spaghetti sauce and cheese in this recipe. It is NOT low calorie. It is HIGH on taste however!
This view shows some of the breaded eggplant sticking out between the layers of sauce and cheese.
Here’s what I did.
I used about 3/4 of a sleeve of saltine crackers for each batch. The pictures here show a double batch of Eggplant Parmesan. The normal recipe makes enough for about a 9″ square baking dish and feeds about 4-6 servings. The double batch makes 8-10 servings.
Crush saltine crackers with a rolling pin or place in your food processor and grate for a fine crumb setting.
Place your cracker crumbs on a plate.
Betty’s secret to making delicious Eggplant Parmesan was to peel the eggplant. She felt leaving the skins on made the eggplant taste bitter.
Try to slice down the eggplant in relatively thin slices. It cooks quicker and you won’t have uneven spots in the eggplant that don’t get cooked all the way.
Beat eggs and place in small bowl.
Start your butter melting in your cast iron skillet or griddle.
Submerge eggplant pieces into beaten egg mixture.
Drain off excess.
Now dip eggplant into cracker crumbs on both sides coating well.
Fry eggplant on one side until brown.
I usually cover the eggplant with a lid and allow the eggplant to cook about 5 minutes per side. This enables the eggplant to cook all the way through.
Turn eggplant over with a spatula and fry on other side. You will probably have to add a little more butter. Cover with lid again so that the eggplant cooks all the way through.
The eggplant must be fork-tender before it’s done. Pierce eggplant with the tines of a fork — especially in the thick sections — once the fork slides through easily the eggplant is done.
Drain eggplant on paper towels. Continue cooking until all your eggplant is used up. One eggplant is enough for a 9″ glass baking dish. I used 2 eggplants for these pictures.
Spray a 9×13″ baking dish with olive oil cooking spray. Spread some tomato sauce at the bottom of the dish to prevent the eggplant from sticking. (Use a 9″ baking dish if only making one batch).
Layer fried eggplant over top of the bottom of the dish.
Spread tomato sauce over top of the eggplant. I could have used a little more sauce on this layer.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. I should have used a little more cheese on this layer.
Layer eggplant over top of parmesan cheese.
Spread some more spaghetti sauce over top of the second layer of eggplant. (Again, I probably should have used some more sauce here).
Sprinkle with another layer of Parmesan cheese.
Layer the final layer of eggplant.
Use the remainder of the jar of spaghetti sauce and smooth over the top of the casserole.
Add remaining Parmesan cheese.
Top with mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil. Bake at 325 for about 30-40 minutes or until recipe is bubbly. Actually you are supposed to bake this for 30 minutes with just the parmesan – then top with mozzarella cheese. It turned out okay anyway!
Here the Eggplant Parmesan is finished. Yum.
Betty’s Fried Eggplant has always been one of the most sumptuous recipes we’ve ever eaten. Probably due to all the cheese.
Here you can see a little of the texture of the inside of the dish.
Here’s a serving of Eggplant Parmesan.
This picture shows a little of the eggplant peeking out the right hand side of the front.
We love Eggplant Parmesan and believe you will to if you give it a try.
Here’s the recipe.
(Recipe from Betty Wyckoff, when we attended First Baptist Church Indian Rocks, Largo, FL)
1 eggplant, peeled and sliced thinly
2 eggs, beaten
Saltine cracker crumbs (about 3/4 sleeve of crackers)
32-oz. jar Spaghetti sauce
8-oz. grated parmesan cheese
8-oz. mozzarella cheese
Peel and cut eggplant in slices. Dip in eggs and then in cracker meal. Melt butter in skillet. Fry eggplant until brown on both sides. Make sure eggplant is fork tender. Drain on paper towels. Take spaghetti sauce and put a little in the bottom of a greased 9″ baking dish. Layer eggplant until the bottom is covered. Put a little more sauce, sprinkle generously with parmesan cheese. Repeat layers until all the eggplant is used up. Parmesan cheese is the last layer. Cover with foil and bake at 325° about 30 minutes until bubbly. Remove foil and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake again about 5 minutes. Serves 6.
Eggplant Parmesan is great as a side dish for fish or chicken.
This close up shows the texture of the dish.
Eggplant Parmesan tastes so wonderful. Add a slice of homemade bread or garlic bread and you can be completely satisfied with this dish alone!
Here’s a look at the inside texture of the dish.
Are you salivating yet?
Why don’t you join me for some?