My husband Robert has been known for his delicious Eggplant Parmesan for longer than I have known him. I have been bugging him to give me the recipe so I could share it with you all, but since he never measures anything – and never makes the recipe the same way twice – it has been difficult. So, on Saturday night when he decided to make this delectable dish for dinner, I grabbed pen, paper and my camera, sat down at our kitchen counter while he cooked and recorded what he did. Upon finishing, he announced that this was absolutely the best version he had ever made! And it truly is scrumptious. Robert likes to serve it with cooked pasta and some of the marinara sauce on the side. Enjoy!
Eggplant Parmesan with Sausage, Mushroom and Olive Marinara Sauce
(Serves 12 to 14)
2 large jars (25 ounce) marinara sauce
6 large mushrooms, sliced
1 small can (2.25 ounce) sliced olives
1 can (14 ounce) fire roasted tomatoes with garlic
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 to 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound mild Italian pork sausage, casings removed (or purchase bulk)
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
2 medium eggplant
4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
16 ounces grated Mozzarella cheese
In a large sauté pan (or skillet), stir together the marinara sauce, mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, Italian seasoning and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer while cooking the sausage.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until no longer pink; drain.
Chop briefly in a food processor to break into small pieces. Stir into sauce; continue to simmer while preparing the eggplant.
Whisk together the eggs and buttermilk and place in a shallow bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in another shallow bowl. Thinly slice the eggplant (around 1/4-inch thick) and dip each slice first into the egg mixture, then into the breadcrumbs. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the eggplant until golden brown on each side. You will be able to cook around 6 slices at a time; add additional oil as needed. Place on paper towel to drain.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spread some of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9-by-13 inch baking dish (enough to cover the bottom). Layer the eggplant on top in two rows, with each row going in an opposite direction (you may be able to fit 3 rows, depending on the size of your eggplant).
Cover eggplant with remaining sauce (Robert likes to save some to serve over pasta on the side).
In a medium mixing bowl, using your hands, mix together the two cheeses. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the sauce.
Bake for around 30 to 40 minutes or until bubbly hot, the cheese has melted and is golden brown on top. Let sit for around 5 minutes before serving.
Make ahead: Eggplant can be prepared and baked up to 24 hours ahead, cooled, covered and refrigerated. Reheat in a 375 degree oven. Can also be frozen after baking.