Cheesy Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan - Bowl by Delores Fortuna

Cheesy Eggplant Parmesan (Deconstructed)

Easier and lighter than a classic Eggplant Parmesan.  First, Eggplant slices are roasted in the oven, then arranged in individual baking dishes.  Topped with only the amount of tomato sauce you wish, an easy sprinkle of breadcrumbs, and finally, torn pieces of fresh Mozzarella and grated Parmesan.  Easy, individual, deconstructed.  But so very nutty-eggplant tasty!!

Note — A recipe for an easy Tomato Sauce is provided (can be prepared ahead of time).  However, as a real short-cut — You could use any desired prepared Tomato/Pasta sauce (yes, a good Sauce in a JAR).  I initially tried this with leftover Lasagne Sauce (yes, with meat) — It worked wonderfully!!

Original recipe from Bon Appetit —

Ingredients / Prep:

2 – 4 cups prepared Tomato/Pasta Sauce (amount – your preference)
(for a Recipe — see below)
2 medium/large Eggplants – sliced 1/2″ thick
Olive Oil
8 whole garlic cloves
8 sprigs oregano (optional) – chopped
1¼ cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs
12 oz. fresh Mozzarella – torn into bite-size pieces
3 oz. Parmesan – finely grated (about ¾ cup)

Instructions / Assembly:

Preheat oven to 375°. Pour small amount Olive Oil in shallow bowl. Dip each Eggplant Slice quickly in Oil (both sides) — Add more Oil to bowl as needed.  Arrange on one or two large baking sheets.  Note — Eggplant is very absorbent of the Oil.  Instead of ‘dipping’, can apply Olive Oil to each slice (both sides) with a clean brush.

To baking sheets, add oregano sprigs, whole garlic cloves drizzled with Oil. Place in oven — Bake for 20-30 minutes.  Note — Original instructions state to cover baking sheets tightly with foil and bake — I do not do this. I simply roast uncovered for 25 minutes.

Toss breadcrumbs and 2 Tbsp. oil in a medium bowl. Arrange eggplant slices (2 or 3 per dish) in several shallow baking dishes — Along with oregano, and garlic.  Top eggplant slices with desired amount Tomato Sauce, a sprinkle of breadcrumbs, then Mozzarella. Then another sprinkle of breadcrumbs and Parmesan.  Bake until Mozzarella is bubbling and breadcrumbs are golden, about 25 minutes.

Ahead of Time:  Tomato Sauce can be prepared up to three days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Eggplant slices can be cooked 1 day ahead. Keep covered; chill. Entire dish can be assembled up to 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Tomato Sauce:

1 – 2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion – finely chopped
2 garlic cloves – peeled, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat — Add onion and saute till just beginning to brown, 6–8 minutes. Add chopped garlic and saute till fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until beginning to darken, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, till slightly thickened, 15–20 minutes. Set tomato sauce aside. Can be prepared up to three days ahead.