Our favorite way to make eggplant parmesan with roasted eggplant slices, tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, mozzarella, and a crunchy bread crumb topping. Detailed tips for making in advance are provided in the article above.
A large casserole dish is best for this (a 13-inch by 9-inch dish or similar is ideal).
3 pounds eggplant, 3 to 4 small
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
3 cups marinara sauce or homemade red pepper tomato sauce, recipe below
1 ounce finely grated parmesan, about 1 cup
3 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated or sliced
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs, see our recipe for homemade bread crumbs
Fresh basil for top, chopped
2 medium red bell peppers, chopped, 1 to 1 1/2 cups
1 pound fresh tomatoes, chopped, about 2 cups or 2 large tomatoes
4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup fresh basil
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Slice eggplants into 1/2-inch thick rounds and place, in one layer, onto baking sheets. Drizzle or brush eggplant slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Flip the slices and repeat on the other side. Roast the eggplant until they start to brown in spots, 15 to 20 minutes. Flip the slices, and then bake another 15 minutes until nicely browned and soft in the middle.
While the eggplant roasts, prepare other ingredients (shred cheese, prepare bread crumbs, make or measure out tomato sauce). If you plan to use the red pepper tomato sauce, you will have enough time to make it while the eggplant roasts.
Add chopped red peppers, tomatoes, sliced garlic, 1/2 cup water, and the salt to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, and then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes. Keep an eye on the pot and adjust the heat as necessary to keep the mixture simmering. If the pot becomes too dry and the peppers and tomatoes begin to stick to the bottom of the pot, add a little more water.
When the peppers and tomatoes look broken down, tender and almost all of the liquid has reduced, give everything a good stir and transfer to a blender or bowl of a food processor. Before blending, add the olive oil, basil and a few grinds of pepper. Blend until the sauce is almost smooth. Taste, and adjust with additional salt or pepper.
Store sauce in an airtight container. It will last in the fridge 3 to 4 days and in the freezer for 3 to 4 months.
Reduce oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread one third of the tomato sauce over the bottom of a large baking dish. Layer half of the roasted eggplant slices over the sauce, allowing some slices to overlap slightly. Sprinkle eggplant with one third of the parmesan cheese and half of the mozzarella cheese. Use a spoon to drizzle about half of the remaining sauce over the eggplant — it does not need to cover everything (watch the video to see us do this.)
Layer the remaining eggplant slices and sprinkle with half of the remaining parmesan cheese, all of the remaining mozzarella as well as the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and finish with the leftover parmesan cheese.
Bake, uncovered in a 400 degree oven, until the sauce and cheese are bubbly, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes, sprinkle fresh basil on top, and then serve.