You Want to Eat This Jamie Oliver's Eggplant Parmesan

I came across this enlightened version of Jamie Oliver's Eggplant Parmesan recipe as I was staring at the gorgeous eggplants at the Bethesda Central Farm Market last summer and searching on my phone for a healthy way to prepare this Italian classic. Since then it's my go-to make-ahead dinner whenever eggplants are in season locally.

Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Eggplant Parmesan in NYT Cooking.

Jamie Oliver's Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients

  • 3 medium eggplants, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  •  Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with or without basil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves (you can skip this if you buy the crushed tomatoes with basil)
  •  Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • ⅓ cup fine dry bread crumb or Italian-style panko - I've used both. Using the Italian style is particularly helpful if you don't have fresh oregano leaves in the house
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves, optional

How to make it

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brush both sides of eggplant slices with oil, and place in a single layer on two or more baking sheets lined with parchment paper for easy clean up. Bake until undersides are golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes, then turn and bake until other sides are lightly browned. (The last time I made this, I was in a hurry and did not turn the slices over and the dish out fine.) Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
  • Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and add onion. Sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and dried oregano and sauté another 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and their juices. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Add vinegar, basil (if using), and salt and pepper to taste. Into a lasagna pan or a 9-by-9-inch, 10-by-5-inch, or 10-by-6-inch baking pan, spoon a small amount of tomato sauce, then add a thin scattering of parmigiano, then a single layer of eggplant. Repeat until all ingredients are used, ending with a little sauce and a sprinkling of parmigiano.
  • In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs and oregano, if using, with just enough olive oil to moisten. Sprinkle on top. If desired, recipe can be made to this point and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before baking.
  • Bake until eggplant mixture is bubbly and center is hot, 30 to 45 minutes depending on size of pan and thickness of layers. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Recipe can also be reheated.