Let’s talk eggplant parm. Cheesy, Italian, vegetarian comfort food at its finest, eggplant parm is not particularly difficult to make but it does require time. Pre-salting the eggplant, breading and frying it, baking the dish and then the most painful part: letting it rest for a full 20 minutes before eating to solidify. This dish is best suited for a Sunday evening when you have time to graze in and out of the kitchen and leisurely sip on a glass of wine to ward off the Sunday scaries.
I hope I didn’t just deter you from making this dish – it really is easy and apart from the eggplant, you likely have all of the ingredients already. Especially if you’re like me and keep a Costco sized bag of shredded mozzarella in your freezer and a can of pizza sauce in your pantry at all times. Serve your eggplant parm with a big green salad or a side of pasta (completely unnecessary, totally delicious) for the perfect Sunday supper.
Makes a nice little micro eggplant parm, serves 2-3 hungry people.
- 1 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise 1/2 inch thick
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 cup Parmesan, grated
- 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, shredded or torn if using fresh
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 can pizza sauce (I like Don Pepino)
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375°. Season the eggplant slices with salt and let them hang out in a single layer for a bit (an hour or so if you can spare it) so the eggplant can release some of its liquid. Wipe away the accumulated moisture on top of each slice with a paper towel.
Mix panko with 1/4 of grated Parmesan, dried basil, oregano and season generously with salt and pepper. Dredge eggplant slices in flour and shake off the excess. Dip slices into egg and then panko mixture.
Heat vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook eggplant slices (as many as will fit in the pan) until deep golden brown on both sides – about 5 minutes total. Transfer to paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
Mix mozzarella with 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Spread 1 generous tablespoon of sauce over the bottom of a 9×9″ glass baking dish, top with a layer of eggplant slices (if you need to cut them to ensure they fit, that’s fine). Spread about 1/4 cup of sauce over the eggplant slices and sprinkle generously with your mozzarella-parm mixture. Add another layer of eggplant, followed by 1/4 cup sauce and half of the remaining cheese mixture. Repeat layers until you’re out of ingredients. Final layer should be cheese! Cover with foil and bake for 35-45 minutes. Turn broiler on high. Broil uncovered until the top gets all golden and bubbly – about 2 minutes. Let it rest for 15-20 minutes before serving – this is very important! Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan before serving.
I love experimenting with pizza toppings. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy a classic plain cheese pizza now and again – I’m not a monster. But there’s something to be said for un-basic toppings. For inspiration I love to look at Gjelina’s menu (I also have their cookbook). Some of my pizza bucket list toppings include: brussels sprouts and burrata, smoked mozzarella and jalapeno, feta and blistered tomato, and castelvetrano olive and caramelized onion to name a few.
Sometimes when the stars align just right some of these ingredients happen to be in my fridge. (OK, maybe I am a bit bougie?) Leftover ricotta cheese, frozen spinach and some Trader Joe’s Soyrizo were the heroes this time around. A stray can of whole plum tomatoes served as the super simple sauce on one side of my pizza and on the other side I opted for just olive oil and minced garlic. I always keep store bought pizza dough in my freezer – it opens up so many doors.
It’s easy to order a pizza (thank you, Seamless) but it’s also surprisingly easy to make extraordinary pizza at home. Forage your fridge for some interesting topping ingredients and use whatever cheese you have on hand – feta, mozzarella, goat cheese – it’s all fair game! If you want to replicate my half and half pie, just halve each of the below recipes.
Pizza with Spinach and Ricotta
- 1 package of store bought pizza dough, at room temperature
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted and wrung out with a paper towel
- 1 cup ricotta
- 8 ounces whole milk fresh mozzarella
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Using your hands begin stretching the dough into whatever shaped pan you will be using – I used a 9 x 13 inch cookie sheet. I find it easier to stretch the dough in the air vs. rolling it out with a rolling pin. (I also find that I do this best when drunk) Sprinkle some cornmeal (be somewhat generous) on the bottom of the pan to prevent dough from sticking. Place dough in the pan and drizzle olive oil on top. Sprinkle minced garlic on. Using a tablespoon, dollop some ricotta cheese blobs around the dough surface. Take clumps of spinach and scatter on the dough next. Finally tear apart pieces of the mozzarella and place in areas that are devoid of ricotta or spinach. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake pizza for 18 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Pizza with Soyrizo and Mozzarella
- 1 package of store bought pizza dough, at room temperature
- Tomato sauce (I used a can of whole plum tomatoes that I pureed in the can with an immersion blender)
- 1/2 package of soyrizo, browned
- 8 ounces whole milk mozzarella
- Red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Using your hands begin stretching the dough into whatever shaped pan you will be using – I used a 9 x 13 inch cookie sheet. I find it easier to stretch the dough in the air vs. rolling it out with a rolling pin. (I also find that I do this best when drunk) Sprinkle some cornmeal (be somewhat generous) on the bottom of the pan to prevent dough from sticking. Sprinkle some cornmeal (be somewhat generous) on the bottom of the pan. Place dough in the pan and spread a generous amount of tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle the soyrizo on top of the sauce and finish with torn pieces of the mozzarella. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and bake for 18 minutes or until crust is golden brown. When the pizza comes out of the oven, top with arugula and serve.