This might sound weird, but I’m going to say it anyways: I only like eggplants when they’re fried or roasted. I know, I know, I’m such a picky eater (Jon says so all the time) and I find that eggplants otherwise have a rubbery taste that I don’t particularly appreciate. And, the truth be told, I’m a real sucker for all things fried in breadcrumbs.
This eggplant casserole is inspired by the Italian Parmigiana di Melanzane, in which eggplants are first deep fried then cooked in the oven topped with a thick tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese. I like to call my recipe a “dairy-free eggplant pargmigiana” although the title makes no sense as my recipe calls for absolutely no Parmesan or any other cheese. It’s definitely not WeightWatchers-friendly, but it is so delectable and entirely worth its calories.
Eggplant casseroles have been a favorite in Italy for centuries, the first mention of eggplant parmigiana in food writing going back as far as the early 1400s. All types of eggplant casseroles can be found online today — some with cheese like this one from Healthy Recipes Blog and others with meat like this New York Times’ recipe — featuring all types of ingredients, some like the authentic parmigiana di melanzane and others entirely different.
No matter how you cook your eggplants, it is important to let them sit sliced in salt prior to cooking. Letting them sit in salt for at least 30 minutes removes all of the liquid from the eggplants as well as their bitter taste, which, if not done, can entirely ruin your dish.
My version of an eggplant casserole involves coating eggplant slices in a breadcrumb mixture, frying them in vegetable oil until golden and baking them with a thick tomato-and-olive sauce. To give the eggplants so much taste without requiring more vegetables, I include garlic powder and dried parsley in the breadcrumb mixture as well as basil in the tomato sauce. Here in Switzerland it is fairly easy to find bottled tomato sauce with basil in the supermarket. If it’s not the case in your country, make sure to add chopped fresh basil or dried basil to the sauce prior to baking the casserole.
This side dish is best when served warm and straight out of the oven. If you have any leftovers — although I highly doubt it! — you can always keep it stored in a Tupperware for up to 3 days in the refrigerator and reheated in the microwave when needed.
Love recipes with tomatoes and olives? Here’s another one of my favorites: this artichoke, tomato, feta and olive pie
One more week until vacation time: woot woot! I’ll have plenty of time to try out new recipes and share my favorites with you. What type of recipes would you like to see more of on the blog? Share with me your requests and suggestions on my Facebook page or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
- 2 medium eggplants, sliced into thick coins
- 5 tablespoons salt
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- ¾ cup (70g) breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg (or 2 if needed)
- 28 ounces (800g) tomato sauce with basil (or if not tomato sauce and add dried basil)
- 3 ounces (80g) black olives, pitted and sliced in half
- 1 cup (2.3 dl) water
- Slice the eggplant into thick coins and place in a colander with salt. Add more salt if needed so that each eggplant is covered in salt. Let the eggplants sit for 30 minutes to release all their liquids and remove their bitterness. After 30 minutes, wash off the salt from the eggplants and dry each eggplant with paper towel.
- Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F and heat vegetable oil in a saucepan over high heat to prepare for frying.
- Combine breadcrumbs, garlic powder, dried parsley and salt in a small bowl. Whisk egg in another small bowl.
- Coat each eggplant on both sides in the egg, then dredge in the breadcrumb mixture. Put to fry. Repeat with each eggplant slice, working in batches. Let the eggplants fry until one side is golden, about 5 to 7 minutes, then turn to fry on the other side. When both sides are golden, move the eggplant to a plate lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil.
- Place the eggplant slices in a single layer in a Pyrex.
- In a big mixing bowl, combine tomato sauce, black olives and water. Pour the mixture over the eggplants.
- Cook in the oven for 25 minutes. Serve warm.
How did your fried eggplant casserole with tomatoes and olives come out? Share photos of your recipe on Instagram by tagging #savormania