When you think of eggplant parm, you probably think of breaded eggplant layered with sauce and a bunch of cheese. While that's delicious and something we'd never, ever turn away, Rach says true eggplant parm is actually much easier, quicker and healthier to make — because it doesn't involve breading.
Question: What's the best way to get moisture out of eggplant + what's your favorite way to cook eggplant?
Rachael breaks down how to make authentic eggplant parm — starting with the important step of preparing the eggplant and removing moisture.
"[Eggplant] used to be super bitter, so we'd salt it and press it for a really long time to get the bitterness out," Rach explains. "Now, most of that bitterness has been bred out of it, but you still want it to absorb very little oil — and that's why we salt it. The longer you salt it, the more moisture comes out of the natural plant — the eggplant itself — and the less oil it will absorb in the pan or in the oven."
HOW TO REMOVE MOISTURE FROM EGGPLANT + PREP IT FOR COOKING
- Remove half of the black skin from the eggplant.
- Slice the eggplant lengthwise into thin planks.
- Salt the eggplant and place it on kitchen towels for 30 minutes to get all the moisture out.
HOW TO MAKE PASTA ALLA NORMA (aka Pasta With Eggplant)
If you want to make a sauce, like John's favorite — Pasta alla Norma with Lamb or Beef — dice the eggplant at this stage.
If you want to make true eggplant parm instead, keep reading!
THE EASIEST EGGPLANT PARM (COOKING EGGPLANT IN THE OVEN)
Once the salted eggplant has been sitting for 30 minutes, spray it with non-aerosol cooking spray or brush it with oil — olive oil or canola oil will do. Season it with salt, pepper, chili flakes and fennel pollen. (Rach says salt and pepper is more than enough if that's all you have on hand.)
Roast the eggplant in a really hot oven (about 450°) using kitchen trays with parchment paper. Rotate the trays as the eggplant is cooking.
Let the eggplant cool before layering it with tomato basil sauce, mozzarella and parm.
"That is true eggplant parma-style — aka eggplant parm," Rach says. "In America, we add an extra fun layer of putting it in a crispy breading. But that's a lot of work."
"It's healthier and easier and a whole lot quicker if you roast the eggplant and layer with tomato sauce, mozzarella and parm," she says.
Get a LOT more of Rach's eggplant recipes here!