Okay, so I'm no chef and I don't know why some people call this recipe Eggplant Parmigiana and some call it Eggplant Parmesan. In fact, I just looked up other recipes on the food network and both are listed there but with the same technique for both. Go figure! Anyway, this is really good and I wish I could take credit for it, but I can't. It's my cousin Brenda's recipe and I'm so glad she shared it me (and she said it was okay to share with y'all too -- thanks Brenda!)
Eggplant Parm...(you decide...)
Panko bread crumbs
Plain bread crumbs
Parmesan cheese, grated
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
So first of all, let me preface by stating this is more of a method than a recipe. You can use this same recipe for zucchini and squash, chicken, venison, pretty much anything that can be fried...
To begin with you need to prepare the eggplants. Peel them and slice them about 1/4" thick. Layer them in a bowl, sprinkling each layer with a little salt to draw out the bitterness sometimes associated with eggplant. Let them sit for about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse them.
Now prepare your breading station: one dish with flour, one with beaten egg and a splash of water and one dish with equal amounts of Panko bread crumbs, plain bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese (I started out with about 1 cup of each). To the bread crumb and cheese mixture, add 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning and mix together.
Heat a skillet over medium heat and add 1 Tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, start dredging your sliced eggplant: first coat both sides with flour (shaking off any excess), then coat it in the egg wash and finally coat both sides with bread crumb and cheese (shaking off any excess).
My skillet will only hold 2 slices at a time so I pan-fried them and then repeated each step until I ran out of bread crumbs.
Eggplant absorbs oil like a sponge so after removing the golden brown eggplants to paper towels, pour another tablespoon into the skillet for the next round of pan-frying.
Since my husband doesn't each eggplant, I decided to make enough to fill an 8x8 casserole dish. I did slice up both eggplants but I only breaded and pan-fried the slices that came from one. I'm currently grilling the leftover slices to put on tonight's pizza.
Now that all of your eggplant is breaded and fried, you're ready for the final step of layering. Start out by putting about 1/4 cup of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of your casserole dish (more if you are using a larger casserole dish). Fit the slices of eggplant to make one layer. If you need to cut the eggplant to make them fit, do so. Pour a layer of spaghetti sauce over eggplant, top with shredded Mozzarella cheese and repeat until your casserole dish is full. Finish up with Mozzarella cheese on top and sprinkle was extra Parmesan cheese. At this point you can bake it at 350 for 30 minutes until it's golden brown. Or you can freeze it and bake it later. The frozen dish can be baked at 350 for about an hour or until golden brown and bubbly.
To prepare the casserole dish to go into the freezer:
First layer plastic wrap into the bottom and up the sides of the casserole dish making sure to have about 6 inches excess on each side, and then do it again but layer it the opposite way than you did before. Repeat but with tin foil. It should look like this:
Once your dish is ready to go into the freezer, layer a sheet of tin foil over the top and crimp and fold the bottom pieces of tin foil to the top layer. Wrap another layer over to make sure it's secure and label it and pop into your freezer.
Once it's frozen solid, you can pull it out of the casserole dish using the plastic you lined it with to begin with and store in the freezer. I don't have enough casserole dishes to have one tied up in the freezer so that's why I do this. But if you have plenty or even the tin foil pans, you can skip this altogether.