My eggplant preference is the heirloom variety called Rosa Bianca and they are plentiful in my area at this time of year. Rosa Bianca eggplant is an eye-catching variety of eggplant. They’re plump and round, and their violet and white exteriors have an attractive appearance. This mild variety is not bitter and tastes the best when sliced and roasted or grilled.
Rosa Biancas are a Sicilian variety, so incorporating them into a classic Sicilian or Italian dish is typical. Because they lack the typical eggplant bitterness, I like them for Eggplant Parmesan, my family’s favorite way to eat eggplant. However, since this dish is a lot of work, I am going to share a few shortcut tricks that will make the process easier while retaining the traditional taste with an Eggplant Parmesan Casserole.
Eggplant Parmesan Casserole
Baked Eggplant Slices -- Ingredients:
- 4 round eggplants about 12-14 oz each
- Olive oil
- Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Peel the eggplant and cut into ¼-inch thick slices.
- Pour enough olive oil onto a baking sheet to just cover the surface with oil. (My pans are 15×10 inches.)
- Place a single layer of the eggplant slices on the oiled pan and then turn them over so both sides are oiled.
- Sprinkle the top of each slice lightly with salt and seasoned panko crumbs.
- Repeat the process with each baking sheet of slices (3 total).
- Bake the eggplant for 30 minutes.
- Remove the eggplant slices from the baking sheets and place them on foil sheets about as large as the baking sheets. Stacking the foil sheets on top of each other.
At this point, you can seal the foil edges and place the eggplant in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the casserole or you can make the casserole immediately. You can also slide the foil-lined sheets into a large ziplock bag and freeze the eggplant for another day.
- 3 pans of the baked eggplant slices (recipe above)
- 26 oz of boxed Italian chopped tomatoes (Pomi or Colavita) — ( I Like cooking with this type of product because the boxes contain only tomatoes, nothing else is added.)
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Oil an 8-inch square baking dish at least 2 inches deep. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Pour the tomatoes into a bowl and stir in the seasonings.
- Place ¼ of the tomato mixture in the baking dish and add a layer of eggplant slices (about one foil layer) overlapping the slices a bit. If there are any loose bread crumbs on the foil, sprinkle them over the eggplant in the baking dish.
- Add ¼ of the tomatoes and spread over the eggplant. Sprinkle with 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Add another layer of eggplant slices, ¼ of the tomatoes and 1 cup of the cheese.
- Add remaining eggplant. Sauce and cheese.
- Spray the dull side of a sheet of foil with cooking spray and cover the baking dish. The dish may be refrigerated if made ahead.
- Bake the casserole, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes more or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling.
- Let rest 10 minutes before cutting the casserole into serving pieces