There are days when having a full, steaming stovetop or an uncomfortably full oven is lovely. Then there are days when it can be hell – for instance, when you have just brought home a new baby or started a new job; when relatives have descended or unexpected guests move in. That’s when the One Dish Wonder comes in. Perfect as a gift, or for a filling but uncomplicated meal, Denise shows us her favorite One Dish Wonder for new parents! – Amy
We love nothing more than a big dish of Eggplant Parmesan. Most versions of the dish tend to get gummy as a result of coating eggplant with egg and bread crumbs, and then frying them in oil. And then, there’s that layer of watery liquid that drowns out all the fresh flavors. But this recipe for Eggplant Parmesan is going to surprise you.
When our friends have a new baby, we bring them a Welcome Baby Dinner which we find is actually a treat for new parents. (A bouquet of flowers always forces them to search high and low for a vase.) I learned about baby dinners from a friend who received this gift, and adored it. Now remember, this is not a meal to share with the new parents (they’re busy!) Just say hello, coo over the baby, drop off the meal and let them dig in.
Typically, I give a no-fuss dish that will last a couple days. What I really enjoy about this Eggplant Parmesan dish is how well it holds up. I contribute that to baking the eggplant with a mere flour dusting instead of breading and frying. Eggplants are like sponges, and they absorb moisture. Therefore, the less moisture you add to preparing them the better. I keep the ingredients for my sauce simple; good canned tomatoes, onion and garlic. A sprinkle of fresh basil between layers adds an expected freshness to this rich one dish meal.
I also add a bag of pre-washed salad mix, some homemade vinaigrette, a loaf of bread, fresh cheese, a bottle of wine or sparkling cider, and brownies to my Welcome Baby Dinner. The exhausted parents just have to warm up the casserole dish, toss together the salad, pop open the wine, and maybe light a candle. I promise they will thank you.
One Dish Eggplant Parmesan
- 4 pounds globe eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/4″ slices
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 large yellow onion, finely minced
- 5 large garlic cloves, finely minced
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 28 ounces whole tomatoes
- 1-1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 8 ounces mozzarella, torn into small pieces
- 5 ounces grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup basil leaves, thinly cut into pieces
- Layer the slices of eggplant in a colander. Sprinkle each layer with some kosher salt. Repeat the process until the colander is filled. Place the colander into the sink and let sit for 60 minutes.
- In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft (about 3 minutes). Add the crushed and whole tomatoes along with their juices, then use a fork to break up the tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat (very low) and simmer for 60 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 450.
- Place the flour into a shallow bowl and stir in the oregano.
- Remove the eggplant from the colander and wipe each slice off with a paper towel. Then dredge in the flour, and lay on a baking sheet. Either spray or drizzle some olive oil over the top. I prefer to use a spray container as I do not like to over-do the oil.
- Place in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Flip over the eggplant slices, spray with a little more olive oil and bake another 12 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet and set aside on a cooling rack. Repeat the process until all the eggplant is baked.
- Lower the oven heat to 400 degrees.
- In a large baking dish, pour in some sauce, and then layer eggplant slices over the sauce until they cover the bottom. Sprinkle some mozzarella, parmesan cheese and basil over the eggplant slices. Cover with more eggplant slices, then pour more sauce over the eggplant. Repeat until you have used all of the eggplant (making the last layer one of cheese).
- Place in the oven and bake for 30 – 40 minutes, until the cheese is browned and bubbly. There may be some liquid that comes to the top, which you can use a spoon to remove. I only have a little if I let the eggplant sit for the full 60 minutes. ** if you are baking this to take over to someone’s home, bake for 20 minutes, then give instructions to the lucky recipient to continue baking for another 20 minutes.
- Let set for 15 minutes on the counter before serving.
Photos taken and styled by Denise.
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