The Step You Need To Start Skipping When Making Eggplant Parmesan

Of all the comfort Italian foods, eggplant parmesan is undoubtedly one of the best. This rich, homey casserole is authentically Italian — though there's some debate about which part of the country it hails from. According to La Cucina Italiana, the regions of Sicily, Naples, and Parma all lay claim to this layered dish of soft, tender eggplant, tomato sauce, and cheeses, including parmesan and mozzarella. Whatever its origins, eggplant parmesan remains a popular dish worldwide, showing up not only as an entree on restaurant menus but also tucked into hoagie rolls at sandwich shops.

Eggplant parmesan is not known for being a light dish, as the sliced eggplant used is typically breaded and fried before being layered with the sauce and rich cheeses. But many of us have witnessed how eggplant acts as a sponge for hot oil, often turning greasy when fried. If you love eggplant parmesan but have had your fill of oily, overly rich preparations, there's a step you should skip to result in a lighter but just as tasty eggplant dish.

Ditch the breading to cut down on greasiness

MyRecipes notes that while the dish sounds great on paper, it often turns out "greasy and leaden." How to fix it? Go for a lighter preparation that skips breading the eggplant entirely. "Adding the breading means the eggplant slices spend too much time in the oil during browning and provide extra places for that oil to get sucked up," the article's author notes. "This adds to both the bulk and heaviness of the dish and the overall perception of greasiness."

Instead, MyRecipes suggests lightly pan-frying slices of peeled, non-breaded eggplant, which creates a dish that hits all the right notes of eggplant parmesan without the excessive oiliness. To do so, start by layering salted eggplant slices between paper towels and microwaving them for eight minutes, which will draw out some of the eggplant's bitter juices. Microwaving the eggplant will also par-cook it. Next, go ahead and fry the slices. You'll need far less oil than you would for breaded eggplant. Once fried, you can proceed to use the eggplant in your favorite recipe. Try it! You might be surprised at just how light eggplant parmesan can be.