I have a very pleasant memory of eating this dish for lunch at Leoune’s Town Talk® restaurant in Wilmington DE on February 17, 1978. I had just asked Marie to have lunch with me the day before and this was our very first time together as just the two of us. The rest, as they say, was history as we married later that year.
The eggplant parmesan served at Leoune’s Town Talk® restaurant was excellent. It was inevitable that Marie and I would make it at home as we both loved it. So we did and the recipe below is guaranteed to please as it was our own and I perfected it. Enjoy!
This recipe varies considerably from ones I’ve seen in cook books as the writers seem to be hung up on drying the eggplant with water extraction via salt before sautéing. It is all bull, unless you are preparing fried eggplant. Do it my way and the total preparation time is about 15 minutes.
1 eggplant, 3" in diameter and about 8" long
1 cup fine breadcrumbs
Pam® (as needed)
Olive oil to lightly coat a 9"x13"x2" glass baking dish
4 to 6 oz. whole milk Mozzarela cheese
1, 32 oz. jar of Classico® Marinara sauce
1 to 2 tbsp. dried basil
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
6, 5" diameter slices of soft Provolone cheese
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Cut the eggplant into ½" thick slices. The eggplant should be about 3+ inches in diameter at the thickest point and about 8+ inches long. We typically grew our own in CA and the plants were robust and productive. One eggplant of the recommended size should be just right to cover the bottom of the glass baking dish.
Dust the eggplant slices in fine breadcrumbs. Lightly sauté them on medium heat in a skillet sprayed lightly with Pam®. Also, remember to spray the surfaces of the eggplant slices with Pam® before sautéing. The eggplant does not have to cook through, for it will later be baked. Anyway, turn once so both sides are lightly browned.
Coat a 9"x13"x2" glass baking dish lightly with olive oil and place the sautéed eggplant slices into it one layer deep. Cut a chunk of Mozzarela cheese about 1"x2"x2" into pieces about 1"x1"x1/4", and place the pieces vertically between and around the eggplant slices. Use more Mozzarela if you like a lot of cheese.
Open the bottle of Marinara sauce and pour in enough to cover the eggplant.
Sprinkle the top with the basil. Use more or less basil to suit your taste.
Put six slices of provolone cheese (5" diameter sandwich type sold in bulk packs at Costco®) on top of the marinara sauce and sprinkle the top of the provolone cheese with about ½ cup of Parmesan cheese.
Bake in the 350º F oven for 45 minutes. Serve and go wild with delight! I had the pleasure of watching a certain significant other wolf down about ½ of the dish in one sitting the first time I made it.
You can vary the preparation by making two layers of eggplant, cheeses and marinara sauce if you have a family to feed. If you do, increase the baking time to one hour, but keep an eye on the top layer of cheeses so that they brown lightly but don’t burn. The Parmesan cheese should turn lightly tan but not brown. You can control that by putting the Parmesan cheese in prior to the slices of provolone. I actually prefer to use separate baking dishes so that the dish is only one layer deep in eggplant as that method yields the best appearance, texture and taste.