Tray Bake Eggplant Parmesan

traybakeeggplantparm

Watch me make this on my YouTube channel!

 

Tray Bake Eggplant Parmesan

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

 

3 medium Italian eggplants (approximately 2 pounds), tops removed

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1½ cups marinara sauce (your choice!)

6-ounces grated/shredded whole milk mozzarella

2-ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

5 medium-sized fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled and sliced very thinly (chiffonade)

 

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Slice each eggplant in half lengthwise. With the skin side resting on a cutting board, score the flesh into a 1/4–inch crosshatch pattern. Score the flesh as deep as possible while trying not to cut through the skin. Open the eggplant, spreading and bending the eggplant so it lays as flat as possible, flesh side up. The goal is to have it lay almost completely flat – skin down. To accommodate this, you can make small cuts around the circumference of the eggplant to release any tension in the eggplant.

Lay eggplant halves flesh side up on a parchment-lined sheet tray.

Brush olive oil (1 tablespoon per eggplant half) evenly over flesh. Sprinkle each half with a little salt. Transfer to oven and bake for 30 minutes, rotating the tray after 15 minutes.

Remove sheet tray from the oven. Spread ¼ cup marinara on top of each eggplant half. Then top each with mozzarella, followed by Parmigiano, some pepper and lastly the panko.

Transfer to oven and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until the cheese begins to brown.

Remove from oven. Top each eggplant with pine nuts, basil and a drizzle of olive oil and serve.

Notes:

  • Want to add a bit more marinara or a bit more cheese? Go for it – it’s only gonna make it better!
  • Although you can use Japanese eggplant for this recipe, I have found that the skin of the Italian eggplant variety is less bitter and therefore works best for this application

 

Classic Basil Pesto

Pesto never goes out of style and it’s application is wide and varied. Add it to pasta or roasted vegetables. Slather it on chicken or use it as a pizza sauce. And the best part? You can make large batches, while the basil is overflowing in the summer, and freeze it for later use. Hooray for pesto!

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Classic Basil Pesto

Yield: 1 cup

 

2 ¼ packed cups fresh basil leaves

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (2 teaspoons)

½ cup pine nuts

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, not pre-grated

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

In a food processor, process to combine, the basil, ¼ cup oil, garlic, and pine nuts. Scrape down the sides, then add the remaining ¼ cup oil, and the cheese. Process until the desired texture is achieved, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. For the record, I add about ½ teaspoon salt and a few good cranks of pepper. No need to rush; taste as you go. Take your time and enjoy.

Note: Care for a nuttier flavor in your pesto? Try using toasted pine nuts.