I am a savory foods lover. Yes, my statement is very definitive. Put a cake and lasagna in front of me and lasagna gets the “W” every time. And although the end of this summer has been unseasonably hot, I still have fall peaking into my mind. Those two reasons together make for the perfect excuse to start cooking up warm and hearty dishes.
This post is about a lazy weeknight eggplant parmesan dinner. What makes this dish lazy/genius is that the eggplant does NOT have to be breaded and pan fried like it does in most other recipes. It saves infinite amounts of time and effort. And guess what – the difference at the end for an average person like me is practically undetectable. Plus, load it up if you want more substance/flavor or load it down if you want something lighter and healthier.
I originally found a similar recipe years ago that was meant for the slow cooker. (Unfortunately, I don’t have that recipe, but I found a simple one if you’d like to try it. Click here for the Crock Pot Eggplant Parmesan recipe.)
What I did is simple. I don’t specify exact amounts here because I eye-balled it and used ingredients I had laying around the house. And like I mentioned before, load it up or load it down – use the ingredients to your taste.
- Tomato Sauce
- Garden Tomatoes
- Mozzarella Cheese
- Italian Style Bread Crumbs
- Olive Oil
- Dried Seasonings – Basil; Oregano; Salt; Pepper
- Slice an eggplant, season the slices, and pre-cook (if desired)
- Layer tomato sauce at the bottom of the baking dish
- Add the following layers in this order:
- Pre-cooked eggplant slices
- Freshly sliced tomatoes
- Tomato sauce
- Dried seasonings (to taste)
- Mozarrella cheese
- Repeat steps 3 – 8 at least one more time
Directions (Comments & Photos)
Slice an eggplant, season, and pre-cook
I used one medium-sized eggplant, sliced. I sprayed the slices with a little olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. I then popped them into my air fryer for a bit to soften them up. I only did this because I wanted to reduce my overall baking time later. Use more eggplant if you want to create more layers.
If you don’t have an air fryer, consider getting one! I’m a bit biased, as I love mine. (You can read about it here: My Air Fryer: Convection Perfection.) Otherwise, go ahead and bake the slices for a little bit in the oven. If you want to skip the pre-cooking all together, try slicing the eggplant thinner and bake the assembled product a little longer.
Layer some tomato sauce
I blended some canned San Marzano tomatoes last week to make a margherita pizza and froze a cup of the leftovers. I defrosted it to use as the sauce in this dish. I recommend you use more sauce than I did. Canned pasta sauce or jarred sauce would work just fine.
I used a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish. Spray your baking dish first and then layer a little bit of the sauce at the bottom. This probably isn’t necessary, but I always like to put a little coating first.
Add the rest of the layers and repeat
The rest of the steps from here on are easy peasy.
Layer the pre-cooked eggplant slices so the bottom of the dish is covered. Some overlap of the slices is OK.
Then, sprinkle some breadcrumbs. Use as much as you like, but I recommend enough to just barely cover the eggplant slices. I went light on the breacrumbs, as you can see from the photo. Use a little more for more flavor.
Place some tomato slices over the top. This is a completely optional step. Most eggplant parm recipes don’t use tomato slices like this, but I was given some fresh garden tomatoes. Not only did I think it was a good opportunity to use them up, but I also wanted to counteract the fact that I didn’t have a lot of tomato sauce.
Pour some of the tomato sauce, making sure to cover any of the areas or cracks that the tomato slices don’t cover. Sprinkle some of the dried seasonings over the tomatoes and sauce. If you have fresh basil, use it! I didn’t have any on hand, so I just used what I have in the spice cabinet.
Spread some mozzarella cheese. I recommend using shredded mozzarella so you can get more even distribution. I had pre-sliced mozzarella in the fridge from last weekend’s pizza, so I tore pieces and evenly distributed. This inadvertently helped me keep the dish light because I didn’t have copious amounts of cheese to saturate throughout.
Lastly, repeat all those layers at least one more time. If you have more ingredients or want to make it thicker, repeat a third time. Note: I have extra seasonings at the very top because I actually forgot to add seasonings on my second sauce layer and decided to add them after the fact. (See? That’s how flexible this recipe is!)
I covered my dish with tin foil and baked at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. I took the foil off and increased the temperature to 425 degrees so that I could get some of the golden brown color on the cheese. This will probably take 5-8 minutes or so, but keep an eye on it. You can even choose to broil at the end instead.
The photo (below) of the eggplant served in the dish is actually 2 servings piled on top of each other. Since my assembled eggplant parm was 2 layers high, the total served portion is 4 layers.
We had leftovers with just the two of us, so I actually used them for dinner tonight. I paired it with the leftover quinoa salad from Labor Day, and served some air-fried kale on the side. Can’t forget that drizzle of sriracha. Mmm. My favorite!