If all recipes could promise what this one does — all the deliciousness with none of the mess — it's safe to say we'd all be living our very best lives. Ina Garten's brilliant take on eggplant Parmesan, published in her new cookbook, Cook Like a Pro, calls for roasting the eggplant instead of frying it, eliminating hot oil splashes and greasy cleanup entirely. The result is an uber-cheesy, saucy, crispy-crunchy eggplant bake, and cleanup is done before you even sit down to dig in.
Why Ina's Roasted Eggplant Parmesan Is Better than the Classic
After cooking this recipe at home, my biggest takeaway was never doubt Ina (something I should have known, of course — but hear me out). First, she asked me to season my sliced eggplant with 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt. One-and-a-half tablespoons is way more than your average three-finger pinch. It's a downright downpour, heavily coating each and every slice. I was nervous.
Then, once the slices are roasted, she had me layer them with marinara sauce, basil, and three types of cheese — fresh buffalo mozzarella, soft herbed goat cheese, and freshly grated Parmesan. I was sold on the amount of cheese (and I loved the unique addition of goat cheese), but I was worried the thin and tender eggplant slices — traditionally protected by a fried breadcrumb coating — would get totally lost in the mix.
But Ina knows what she's doing, which she proved once again in this phenomenal dish. Every bite was a mouthwatering trifecta of tender, silky eggplant, warm marinara sauce, and gooey, melty cheese (none of which overpowered the other). And you know what? It was perfectly seasoned — just the right amount of saltiness. If you're worried about losing out on the crunch you get in a classic eggplant Parmesan, don't worry: Ina gives you that in the form of a garlicky, herby bread crumb topping. I'll never doubt her again.
Ina Garten's Roasted Eggplant Parmesan
2 1/2 pounds
eggplant, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced 1/4- to 1/3-inch thick
good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (24-ounce) jar
marinara sauce, such as Rao’s
julienned fresh basil leaves
fresh buffalo mozzarella, thinly sliced
garlic and herb goat cheese, such as Montrachet
1 1/2 cups
freshly grated Italian Parmesan cheese
- For the topping:
1 1/3 cups
fresh bread crumbs from a country loaf
garlic cloves, minced
chopped fresh basil or parsley leaves
good olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400°F and arrange three racks evenly spaced.
Lay the eggplant in one layer on three sheet pans and brush both sides with olive oil, using all the oil. Sprinkle with the oregano, crushing it lightly in your hands, then sprinkle with 1 1/2 tablespoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the slices and rotate the pans in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes, until tender. Leave the oven at 400°F.
In a 10×14×2-inch ceramic baking dish, spread 1/3 of the marinara sauce. Arrange a third of the eggplant on top in one layer. Scatter a third of the basil, a third of the mozzarella, a third of the goat cheese, and a third of the Parmesan on top. Repeat twice, starting with the marinara and ending with the Parmesan, making sure each layer is evenly distributed.
For the topping, place the bread crumbs, garlic, and basil in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt and pulse to moisten the crumbs. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the dish.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown. Allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.
Reprinted from Cook Like a Pro: Recipes & Tips for Home Cooks. Copyright © 2018 by Ina Garten. Photographs by Quentin Bacon. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.