Why It Works
- This Italian-style version is breading-free, making it even easier to prepare than the Italian-American version.
- A 10-minute rest after baking allows the eggplant to absorb any extra liquid and become incredibly moist and tender.
Sweet, silky, and absolutely delicious, the breading-free version of eggplant parm that's made in Italy is well worth trying, especially in late summer, when eggplant and tomatoes are at their best. This version has no Parmigiano-Reggiano, and an incredibly clean, fresh flavor as a result, but feel free to add a dusting of freshly grated cheese to each layer if you prefer.
- Olive oil, vegetable oil, or a combination, for frying
- 2 pounds (0.9kg) eggplant, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- Kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups (360ml) tomato sauce (see note)
- 3/4 pound shredded fresh mozzarella (12 ounces; 340g)
- Torn fresh oregano leaves, from about 4 sprigs
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Fill a large cast iron skillet with 1/2 inch oil and heat over high heat until shimmering. Working in batches, fry eggplant slices, turning, until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer fried eggplant to a paper towel–lined half sheet pan and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining eggplant, topping up oil as needed.
In a 6-cup baking dish, arrange a layer of eggplant slices. Top with a thin layer of tomato sauce, followed by shredded mozzarella and oregano leaves. Continue layering eggplant, sauce, cheese, and herbs to fill baking dish. Do not add oregano to the top layer.
Bake eggplant Parmesan until bubbling and browned on top, about 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes to reabsorb juices. Sprinkle with oregano leaves and serve.
The tomato sauce here can be as simple as puréed canned tomatoes with a touch of olive oil and salt, or a more involved sauce, such as this one made from fresh tomatoes. It should be seasoned with salt in all cases.