When my husband requested eggplant Parmesan for supper one night this week, I was overjoyed. I love Olive Garden's eggplant Parmesan. However I didn't want just a copycat recipe of their entree. I wanted something we could call our own. Purposely not looking at many recipes for the dish in the blogsphere and other websites, I fiddled tonight and came up with something my husband and I both enjoyed.
I wanted something really flavorful and savory without being too rich or overwhelming. I think I hit just the right amounts of everything. If you cut back on the cheese, add more breadcrumbs. Because I salted the eggplant and the cheese is salty, I did not add more salt to the breading mixture.
For my marinara sauce, I used homemade marinara sauce from The Naptime Chef and featured here on one of my favorite blogs, Recipe Girl. I prepared this earlier in the week and froze it until I was ready for it tonight.
1 medium sized eggplant
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup 2% milk
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil, divided
1-2 cups marinara sauce
Slice eggplant into 6 half inch rounds. Place on baking rack over a cookie sheet or paper towels. Salt both sides of eggplant and let sit at least an hour, turning over every 15 minutes or so to let the water from the eggplant "weep."
In food processor, combine panko breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, basil and oregano. Pulse until well blended. Pour into a shallow dish or plate. If you don't have a food processor, you can do without this step and just blend the ingredients in a small bowl. I just wanted the panko crumbs to be smaller and for the cheese to be blended well.
In a separate shallow dish or plate, whisk one egg and 1/4 cup milk.
In large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. While skillet is warming, pour marinara sauce in a small saucepan and heat over low heat. Prepare spaghetti noodles or angel hair pasta, if desired.
Once oil is hot in skillet, place eggplant slices in egg mixture, coating both sides, then in breadcrumb mixture, also coating both sides. Put eggplant in pan, frying on each side about 7 minutes, turning once. If you have to work in batches, remove cooked eggplant to a plate, add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and add remaining eggplant.
To serve, place 2-3 slices of eggplant and a serving of pasta (if desired) on plate, pour 1/2 cup marinara sauce over eggplant and another 1/2 cup over pasta. Top eggplant and pasta immediately with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.