Ina Garten's Foolproof Secret To Mess-Free Eggplant Parmesan

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If Ina Garten has cooking advice, we're all ears. Not only can the celebrity chef help make our meals tastier, but she also has plenty of tips to assist us with the cooking process. And when it comes to her recipe for roasted eggplant parmesan, she doesn't mess around. Not only does the recipe in her cookbook "Cook Like a Pro" include good olive oil (a Garten staple) and a whole pound of fresh buffalo mozzarella, but the chef has a solid reason for cooking her eggplant in the oven instead of on the stove.

"Most recipes for eggplant Parmesan require that you fry the eggplant, which leaves my kitchen — and me! — a greasy mess," Garten says in "Cook Like a Pro". To keep everything neater at home, she simply roasts the eggplant instead. The beauty of this technique is that practically the whole dish can be made in the oven, which leaves your hands free and eliminates any oil splatters in your kitchen. You may also end up using less oil this way, too, since you won't need to pan-fry. Plus, when you roast eggplant, it becomes soft on the inside and slightly caramelized on the outside, which can add a tasty depth of flavor to your dish.

How to maximize oven usage for eggplant parmesan

Any method for making eggplant parmesan involves cutting the fruit into slices, so you can layer them in between sauce and cheese. If you're roasting them following Garten's tip, all you have to do is brush them with olive oil, season them with plenty of salt, pepper, and oregano, and bake them at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until they're soft on the inside. Garten turns hers halfway through, but it's not essential. This is undoubtedly the easiest eggplant technique, but you could also coat your slices in breadcrumbs beforehand for extra crispiness. If you go with this option, you'll want to dip your eggplant in whisked eggs first, then dip into the seasoned crumbs — much like if you were creating a crispy coating for chicken. However, skipping breading the eggplant results in a lighter eggplant parmesan. Garten herself doesn't do it. Her dish deploys breadcrumbs as a final crunchy topping instead, mixed with garlic, basil, olive oil, and salt.

After your eggplant is roasted, all that's left to do is assemble your meal in a baking dish. The order typically goes as follows: Sauce, eggplant, cheese, repeat. Garten uses a combination of mozzarella, goat cheese, and parmesan, although mozzarella on its own would be tasty as well. Then the whole thing goes back in the oven complete with that topping of seasoned breadcrumbs to crisp up, leaving you free to relax and enjoy the delicious aroma of your dinner baking.