My roomie before Ryan, Katie, makes a pretty solid eggplant parm. After watching her make it a handful of times, I decided I would take a whack at it and make some of my own! I think she would be proud ☺️
Eggplant Parmesan a la Pao
1 large eggplant
1-2 cup flour (seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder)
1 cup Panko bread crumbs (+more as needed depending on the size of your eggplant)
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (to add to the Panko)
Pesto (or basil if you don’t have any lying around)
Your favorite Rao’s red sauce (I used the Fra Diavolo this time around, but I love the prosciutto one, or even just the plain marinara, as well)
Grape tomatoes (halved)
Parmesan cheese, shredded (or you can use grated as well- this is for the topping, and I love how shredded melts)
How to Put These Bad Boys Together:
*Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
Set up your breading station- set out 2 plates and a bowl. The seasoned flour and Panko bread crumbs (combined with the 2 tbsp grated Parmesan) go in their own plates, and the eggs are beaten in the bowl with a splash of water to create an egg wash. Cut up your eggplant into thin slices (about 1/4 inch thick), and then take it through the breading station- flour, eggs, Panko. I find that using tongs helps keep my hands from forming breadcrumb balls at the end of my fingers… Which is often nice to avoid 🙂
Have a sheet pan or tray to put your breaded eggplant slices on.
Once everything is breaded, heat up a large frying pan with some olive oil- there should be enough to cover the whole bottom of the pan.
Once the oil is hot, put in your first batch of eggplant to fry. These cook up fast so keep an eye on them- flip after about 1-2 minutes. You should see the fried side looking nice and golden brown. Once fried, set aside on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil.
Once all of your eggplant is fried, it is time to assemble your little towers.
In a sheet pan or aluminum tray (easy cleanup with these!) pour enough marinara (Rao’s sauce) to coat the bottom. (In reality, you can use whatever red sauce you have handy, but this sauce is just so good and I’m hooked… So I either home-make sauce or use this brand). Lay down the bases to your towers… These should be the largest rounds. Lay down a spoonful of sauce and some mozzarella cheese on top of these eggplant rounds, and then later on the next slice. Spread some pesto (or lay down 2-3 basil leaves) and then layer on your halved grape tomatoes (I used 4-5 halves fanned out on the eggplant slice). Finish your towers off by placing a smaller slice of eggplant on top and top with some sauce and some Parmesan cheese.
Pop these on the oven for about 15 minutes or until you see the cheese start to bubble and turn golden brown.
I topped mine with a spoonful more of sauce and some purple basil for garnish.