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. It was 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. Cooks in those days were so used to whipping up recipes quickly and on the fly. 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 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. 4C brand makes gluten free Italian bread crumbs you can purchase at Walmart. They are my preferred choice these days. I store them in my freezer when not in use.
You can use regular bread crumbs or Panko bread crumbs in place of the saltine cracker crumbs if you desire. I’ve used regular 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. It’s wonderful with homemade bread.
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!
Here’s what I did.
I used about 3/4 of a sleeve of saltine crackers for each batch. Place crackers in a zip lock bag.
Crush saltine crackers with a rolling pin or place in your food processor and grate for a fine crumb setting.
Place the 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.
Slice down the eggplant in relatively thin slices. It cooks more quickly 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.
Submerge eggplant pieces into beaten egg mixture. Drain off excess.
Now dip eggplant into cracker crumbs on both sides coating well.
Melt butter in skillet. 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. Spoon some spaghetti sauce at the bottom of the dish to prevent the eggplant from sticking. Spread sauce to the corners to get good coverage. (Use a 9″ baking dish if only making one batch).
Layer fried eggplant over top of the bottom of the dish.
Spread spaghetti 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.
Add another layer of eggplant.
Add spaghetti sauce.
Add parmesan cheese.
Add the third layer of eggplant.
Add spaghetti sauce.
Add parmesan cheese. Cover with foil. Bake about 30-40 minutes at 350 until casserole is bubbly.
Remove casserole dish from oven. Remove foil. Top with mozzarella cheese and bake an additional 5-10 minutes until cheese melts.
Here the Eggplant Parmesan is finished.
Betty’s Fried Eggplant has always been one of the most sumptuous recipes we’ve ever eaten. Probably due to all the cheese.
We love Eggplant Parmesan and believe you will to if you give it a try.
Eggplant Parmesan is hearty, filling and utterly satisfying as a main dish or side dish.
Here’s the recipe.
(Recipe adapted from Betty Wyckoff, when we attended First Baptist Church Indian Rocks, Largo, FL)
- 1 eggplant, peeled and sliced
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Saltine cracker crumbs
- 32-oz. jar Spaghetti sauce
- 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.
- Drain on paper towels.
- Take spaghetti sauce and put a little in the bottom of a greased 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.
Every bite of Eggplant Parmesan is irresistible.
Eggplant Parmesan tastes so wonderful. Add a slice of homemade bread or garlic bread and you can be completely satisfied with this dish alone!