It’s that time of year again! Time to break out the comfort food recipes that can warm you up on a cold day. Here’s a new one for your collection: baked eggplant Parmesan Napoleons. We love these stacks, since they’re easy to portion and serve.
This recipe is a bit different from classic eggplant parm, since we didn’t fry the breaded eggplant – we baked it instead. This is much healthier and just as tasty. (For the record, with the amount of ricotta and mozzarella cheese we pile on these things, they’re far from healthy. But we like to tell ourselves we’re being good.) Besides being healthier for you, this version is so much quicker and easier to prepare. We have a countertop deep fryer that only fits two slices of eggplant at a time. It takes us over an hour just to prep the slices. Who has time for that?! Not us!
To start, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
We had three small eggplants in our garden, so we harvested them and used them here. This recipe uses one large, two medium, or three small eggplants.
Rinse the eggplant and slice off the tops. Be careful – the tops have tiny thorns that can really hurt when you grab them. Slice the eggplants in rounds, about 1/4″ thick. Lay them out on a flat surface.
Sprinkle salt over the eggplant and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Take a paper towel and dab the moisture off the eggplant slices. Flip them over and repeat. This will remove a lot of the bitterness from the eggplant. It will also help the breading stick.
Now it’s time to set up your breading station. You’ll need two shallow pans. In one, whisk together an egg and a splash of water. In the other, mix together 1/2 cup of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.
Put each eggplant slice in the egg and mix around on both sides. Then put the slices in the breadcrumbs and coat fully. We recommend you work with a friend – this process goes a lot faster with two people! Move to an oiled cookie sheet in a single layer.
Bake the eggplant rounds for 15 minutes. Take them out of the oven, flip them over, then bake for an additional 15 minutes. They should be golden brown on both sides. (Our favorite little helper kept an eye on them as they baked!)
While the eggplant pieces are baking, prepare your favorite tomato sauce recipe. We use tomato puree with a mixture of onion, garlic, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
You should also use this time to prep your cheeses. Put a 16 oz. container of part-skim ricotta in a bowl and mix with salt, pepper, and fresh chopped parsley. Cut 16 oz. of part-skim mozzarella cheese into thin slices.
When the sauce and eggplant are done cooking, add a thin layer of sauce to the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Place a layer of eggplant pieces over the sauce. You want to use the largest ones first, since these are the foundation pieces for the stacks.
Lower oven to 350 degrees.
Add a dollop of the ricotta cheese to each eggplant slice. Then add a slice of mozzarella. Press down on the mozzarella to spread the ricotta onto the slice evenly. Add a small spoonful of sauce on top of the cheeses.
Top with more eggplant, using the next largest ones. Then repeat the eggplant, cheese, and sauce process until you’ve used up all the eggplant. Finish with a slice of mozzarella cheese on top of each stack.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is all melted. While baking, prepare your favorite pasta.
Add cooked, sauced pasta to a plate or bowl and place an eggplant stack on top. Finish with more parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, or both. We like to serve these with spaghetti or capellini, since you can create a nest with the pasta where the napoleon can sit. It makes for a nice presentation, don’t you think?