We love the ratio of eggplant to everything else in this unique spin on a classic comfort food. Eating clean during this cozy, celebratory season isn’t about eating perfectly — it’s about knowing when to pivot. Sometimes you need to yield to our cravings to stay on track, and this whole eggplant parmesan recipe from The Vegetable Gardener’s Cookbook is a perfect example of how how to do so in balance.
Veggie forward and full of immunity-boosting spices, this playful seasonal recipe is quick to bake up and comforting on every level. Stick it on the short-list for autumn potlucks and holiday feasts…
Whole Eggplant Parmesan
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes
pinch of kosher salt, plus more to taste
pinch of crushed red pepper
4 medium eggplants
fresh black pepper, to taste
8 sprigs of fresh oregano
8 sprigs of fresh thyme
1½ cups coarsely ground fresh bread crumbs
12 oz fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces
1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the sliced garlic, and toast it until it begins to sizzle, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands, along with a generous pinch of salt and crushed red pepper. Lower the heat, and simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut each eggplant in half. Score the flesh with the tip of a paring knife in a crosshatch pattern. Transfer the eggplants to two foil-lined rimmed baking sheets, cut side up. Brush each eggplant half with 1 tablespoon of oil, allowing each brushstroke to be fully absorbed before brushing again. Season each half with salt and pepper, and top each with a sprig of oregano and thyme. Transfer to the oven and cook until tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Discard the oregano and thyme.
While the eggplant is roasting, in a medium bowl, toss the bread crumbs with the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of oil. Transfer the roasted eggplant to two large, shallow baking dishes, cut side up. Top each eggplant half with the prepared tomato sauce, torn mozzarella, the bread crumbs and grated Parmesan. Bake until the bread crumbs are golden and the cheese is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Reprinted with permission from The Vegetable Gardener’s Cookbook by Danielle Majeika, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. Photo credit: Danielle Majeika.