Recently I was reminiscing with my closest college friend when she mentioned the first meal I cooked for her, eggplant parmesan. When we first met we spent plenty of time in social settings, but this meal was around the time we started to become true friends. I don’t remember the style of eggplant I made or even what the final result looked like but apparently my meal made an impression for her to remember it 10+ years later. I love how food can bring people together. Even though I grew up within a cooking household I didn’t love to cook until I was a few years into college. But once the cooking bug took hold I loved it and would make large batches of food to share with my friends. My style of cooking has evolved quite a bit from those days but I still cherish these memories as it was the start of my cooking adventures.
Since that phone call eggplant parmesan has been on my brain. I knew I wanted to make a healthier version, one without breadcrumbs and one that wasn’t fried. My first thought was to grill. I love grilled eggplant but since it’s been snowing all week there was no chance for using a grill, so I opted to roast the eggplant instead. It turned out perfect. Yes perfect. Better than it would have been if it was fried or grilled. The eggplant was tender in a melt in your mouth kind of way. As I cooked this meal and ate this meal I was thinking of my beautiful friend Melissa. I wished she was near to enjoy it with me. Mama I dedicate this recipe to you.
- 2 large eggplants
- olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried chopped rosemary
- 1/2 large onion, chopped
- jar of marinara sauce, my favorite is san marzano tomato basil sauce
- 1/3 cup castelvetrano olives, sliced in half (or any other olive variety)
- box of spaghetti, I used Jovial brown rice
- 6 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
- First salt the eggplant. Since eggplant skin can be tough I peeled some of it off in stripes lengthwise around the eggplant. Chop into 1″ rounds. Salt each piece liberally and place in a colander. Let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse the eggplant well, lightly squeeze out some of the water, and dry the rounds in a towel.
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- In a small bowl mix 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic salt, dried rosemary, and a bit of fresh ground pepper. Brush all sides of the eggplant slices with a thin coat of the olive oil mixture and lay in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 30-40 minutes until lightly browned and tender. Set aside.
- Meanwhile cook pasta according to package until just al dente, the pasta is going to be baked so you want it slightly undercooked. Rinse to stop cooking.
- In a saucepan heat up a tablespoon of olive oil and add the onion cooking over medium heat until translucent and slightly browned. Add the jar of sauce and the olives. I chose the castelvetrano variety because they are crisp, meaty, and light in flavor. Plus they are bright green and I love their color.
- Place the pasta in a 3qt pyrex dish. Add about half the sauce and toss. You want the pasta to be well coated but not soaked in sauce. Next add in the eggplant slices in a single layer, I had to squish mine in a bit. Top each slice with a spoonful of sauce and lastly layer on the mozzarella slices.
- Bake at 350° for 15 minutes until warmed through and broil a few minutes more to brown the cheese.