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Eggplant Parmesan + Side Salad

Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Gluten Free
  • Vegetarian
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Big Kids Plate
Toddler Plate

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Why we love it:

I love an Italian restaurant tower eggplant parm with thin slices, each fried and golden with a breaded outer layer, held together with too much cheese and sauce. But that’s hard to make, takes a while and frying is not fun. This version is weeknight friendly and still hits those notes without feeling like a part-time job to cook.

Ingredients

  • 2 Eggplants
  • 14 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt (divided)
  • 1 28-ounce can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 12 Red Onion
  • 3 cups Mozzarella (shredded)
  • 1 cup Parmesan Cheese (grated)
  • 6 ounces Fresh Mozzarella
  • 4 cups Romaine Lettuce (baby or chopped)
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 4 Tablespoons Salad Dressing

Cooking Instructions

  • 1. PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 425 DEGREES
  • 2. EGGPLANT

    Slice the eggplant stem off and stand it up. Carefully slice long thin slices all the way through - if they aren’t perfect that’s ok. Toss the slices on a baking sheet and drizzle generously with olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Arrange in 1 - 2 layers using 1 - 2 baking sheets. Place in the oven and roast for 15 minutes, tossing once halfway through.

  • 3. SAUCE

    Meanwhile, open the tomatoes and stir in the remaining salt, the dried oregano, and garlic powder. Mince the red onion and add it too.

    Add the shredded mozzarella and the parmesan. Slice the fresh mozzarella into thin slices if needed. Set all aside.

  • 4. LAYER

    When the eggplant comes out of the oven, assemble. In a roughly 8 x 8 inch pan (or any shape that’s similar - larger will just yield a thinner casserole but it’s ok) spread ½ cup of tomatoes.

    Visually, or literally, separate the eggplant into 4 even groups. Note the sauce amount and roughly estimate dividing it in 4 amounts too. The shredded mozzarella will be divided into only 3 piles!

    Layer - eggplant, sauce, shredded mozzarella / eggplant, sauce, mozzarella / eggplant, sauce, mozzarella / eggplant, sauce.

  • 5. BAKE

    Cover with foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes. Slide the casserole dish out and remove the foil. Top with FRESH mozzarella slices. Return to the oven, uncovered, and bake for another 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and browned and a knife slips into the center with no resistance.

  • 6. SALAD

    Meanwhile, toss lettuce with cucumber and dressing.

  • 7. SERVING

    Let the dish cool down for at least 5 minutes or so, the slice. Serve with salad on the side.

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Substitutions

  • DAIRY FREE:
    use your fave non-dairy cheese
  • EGGPLANT:
    yup! Sub it out for no cook lasagna noodles and follow the package instructions. OR sub for slices of zucchini or slices of portobello mushrooms or a combination!
  • MUST HAVE MEAT:
    sauté some thinly sliced or ground sausage and stir into the tomato sauce - add shredded beef or chicken to the tomato sauce, add pepperoni slices into the layers

Kid Friendly Version

Big Kids Plate
Toddler Plate

How to Tweak This Recipe for Kids:

  • If they won’t even try eggplant this is a loss - I would offer a bite. Boil pasta on the side and toss it with some of the tomato sauce. Top with cheese and bake
  • Or replace some of all of the eggplant with zucchini or portobello mushrooms if those are veggies they will eat

For Toddlers

  • After baking, chop and slice up into a chunky, soupy, puree texture. Serve with a spoon and a side of pasta

For Choosy Eaters

  • Boil pasta or rice on the side. Offer a bite of eggplant, maybe a taste of sauce
  • Offer a few bites of mozzarella cheese (shredded or fresh)
  • Serve with cucumbers or other veggies

Prep Ahead & Use It Up

  1. Make the whole casserole and bake it. Reheat slices
  2. Or, just assemble it but don’t bake it for up to 2 days (but it will take longer to cook through)
  3. Or, just roast the eggplant ahead and stir together the sauce. Assemble and bake within 6 days
  4. Use it up: Leftovers are amazing. Heated in the oven or microwaved, they’re so good. Also consider lifting off the top half of casserole after you’ve heated a slice and serving the now thinner pieces on a toasted sub roll. Dreamy!
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