Dinner Doctor readers will recognize this recipe—that’s where I first shared it. But honestly, I could not write a book about dishes to tote without this one, which I have doubled to serve twelve and changed a bit by adding fresh basil leaves. You fry eggplant slices that have been dipped in egg. Then, as they bake they meld with a good pasta sauce enhanced with red wine. It makes a great vegetarian main course, too.
2 jars (26 ounces each) tomato-based pasta sauce
¼ cup dry red wine
4 medium-size cloves garlic, crushed in a garlic press
½ loosely packed cup torn fresh basil leaves
1 cup vegetable oil or olive oil, or more as needed
4 large eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggplants (3 pounds total), peeled and sliced crosswise ¼ inch thick
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Place the pasta sauce, wine, garlic, and basil in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Let simmer while you prepare the eggplant.
3. Heat ½ cup of the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Crack the eggs into a wide, shallow bowl, season them with salt and pepper to taste, and lightly beat them with a fork. Arrange a double thickness of paper towels on a counter near the skillet. Place 2 to 3 slices of eggplant in the beaten egg and turn them to coat. Using a fork, transfer the eggplant slices to the hot oil and cook until golden brown and puffy but not cooked through, about 1 minute per side, then drain them on the paper towels. Repeat with the remaining slices of eggplant, wiping out the pan and adding more oil as necessary.
4. Place half of the eggplant slices in the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Pour half of the pasta sauce over the eggplant, spreading it out evenly with a spatula. Scatter 2 cups of the cheese over the sauce. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, pasta sauce, and cheese. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake the casserole until it is bubbling and the cheese has melted, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and let the eggplant rest for 5 minutes, then slice and serve.
BIG BATCH: Make a second or third casserole and you can feed twenty-four or thirty-six people. The only chore is frying the eggplant.
Keep the eggplant Parmesan warm when you tote it by covering the top of the baking dish with a snap-on plastic lid and placing the dish in a casserole carrier.
When you arrive, remove the plastic cover, tent the baking dish with aluminum foil, and place it in a warming drawer.
Or, you can bake the eggplant halfway through at home—about 20 minutes—and then finish baking it once you arrive.me—about 20 minutes—and then finish baking it once you arrive.
EXCEPTIONAL EGGPLANT Try to select eggplant that are firm, heavy, shiny, and very fresh: These will contain fewer seeds and be less bitter than, older eggplant and will not need to be salted and drained before cooking. For the freshest eggplant, buy them in the summer and early fall from local markets. Use them within a day or two of purchase.