For once I was grateful that my son dislikes (well, hates!) eggplant. I got all the leftovers to myself today at lunch-time (yes it may have been an early-ish lunch).
I made my first Eggplant Parmesan of the summer last night. I didn’t start cooking until 6:05pm and we had dinner at 7pm and the last half hour of that the dish was in the oven. So it can be done on a weeknight!
If you like eggplant but no one else in your family days, still make it. Leftovers are so good! And you may even convert a few doubters. . .
Weeknight Eggplant Parmesan
First of all I don’t salt and drain eggplant. I used to but don’t think it made a big difference especially with nice fresh eggplant. In this preparation it also doesn’t seem to need lots of oil and cooks up perfectly in just a tablespoon of oil. The dish is so flavorful and not at all heavy like some versions I’ve eaten (and enjoyed!) over the years.
2 large globe eggplants, sliced into ¼ – 1/3 –inch slices lengthwise or into rounds
3 generous cups tomato sauce (recipe below, or your favorite version) heated up
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped basil
2 cups (or more) grated Parmesan or aged Asiago (less expensive & still delicious alternative)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the largest skillet you have over medium-high heat. Add eggplant slices in a single layer and sprinkle with salt. Cook for a few minutes and when the underside is nicely browning in places, flip and cook for a few more minutes until the slices are tender (but not falling apart) and browned. Remove from pan, add another tablespoon oil and repeat with remaining slices.
Heat up the tomato sauce with the minced garlic and basil, or just stir in cold if you’re in a hurry and you made the sauce earlier. Spread just a little tomato sauce on the bottom of an 8 x 13” baking dish (or something similar), cover with a layer of eggplant and spread a thin layer of sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with Parmesan. Repeat until you’ve used up all your ingredients, ending with either eggplant and cheese or sauce and cheese.
Bake for 25 minutes or so until everything is bubbling and the cheese is browning on top. You can run it under the broiler for a few minutes if you want more color. Serve hot or warm.
Simplest Tomato Sauce
Tomatoes, olive oil, salt. That’s it. When the tomatoes are good it’s honestly all you need. And I make sauce with slicer and heirloom tomatoes, not just sauce types, all the time. It takes a little longer to cook down because they’re so juicy but with a little patience and high heat it’s pretty quick too.
2 lb +/- fresh tomatoes, diced (I don’t usually bother pealing and seeding them)
A little butter, to finish (optional)
Coat the bottom of a wide skillet with olive oil. Heat over high heat until shimmering. Add tomatoes and a few pinches salt. Stir well, turn down to medium high and simmer, stirring often, until sauce thickens to your liking. Taste, adjust seasoning with salt and a tablespoon or two of butter, especially if the sauce is quite acidic. Butter is THE perfecter of tomato sauce. Serve over spaghetti with Parmesan and fresh basil.