Nov 9, 2020

Eggplant Parmesan with Burrata

Prep Time: 35 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Crispy slices of dredged and fried eggplant are layered into serving dishes and topped with marinara and creamy burrata for a comforting Italian vegetarian entree.

While American versions of an eggplant Parmesan recipe are classically served with slices of fried eggplant with marinara and mozzarella alternately layered in a baking dish, I hate how the eggplant gets soggy in the casserole iteration. What’s the point of frying if it will just get soggy before serving? When baked to melt the cheese, the sauce ends up turning the breading to mush, mashing up what should be varying textures.

I had a similar appetizer version of this portioned, layered eggplant Parm at Emmy Squared on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I loved the way they stacked the eggplant slices rather than layering it so that each bite was crispy, saucy and cheesy. While not the classical preparation I think this is the perfect way to create individually portioned entrees with contrasting textures topped off with buttery portions of burrata.

Eggplant Parmesan with Burrata

Ingredients in Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant

In this recipe I use Globe eggplant, it’s the typical oblong eggplant found at most grocery stores. I opt for medium ones so that they aren’t too big when layering them. Thin Japanese or Chinese eggplant or Graffiti eggplant (also known as Sicilian eggplant) work great in this recipe too and can be easily swapped out. The slices of eggplant are seasoned with salt (rather than salt and pepper since the pepper is added to the breadcrumbs) to draw the moisture out of the eggplant before they’re fried so they don’t get mushy.

Panko

Panko, or Japanese breadcrumbs, are light and airy. They absorb less oil than Italian breadcrumbs which makes for a crisp, crunchy texture. The Panko mixture is seasoned with Parmesan, red pepper, garlic powder and black pepper and ground fine so that it coats the eggplant more evenly.

Parmesan

The addition of Parmesan cheese to the coating adds flavor and as the eggplant is fried the Parmesan melts into the breading and works to keep the Panko adhered.

Buttermilk

The typical American buttermilk is low-fat and is ideal for adding a tangy flavor and frying the slices of eggplant.

Marinara

Because the eggplant part of the recipe takes a bit of attention, using a jarred tomato sauce certainly makes things easier though if you have the time I love being able to make my own from scratch since it’s very easy. I typically use this recipe for marinara here. This sauce has a great flavor – made with whole peeled tomatoes, diced tomatoes, onion and garlic cloves. Simply blend it for a smoother sauce.

Burrata

I love topping dishes with creamy burrata cheese. Burrata, a soft cow’s milk cheese from Italy, is essentially mozzarella filled with a creamy interior. It is served cold over the dish rather than melted and adds an additional creaminess that contrasts really well with the tomato sauce and crispy eggplant. If you can’t find burrata cheese it can be substituted with slices of fresh mozzarella but since it’s not as creamy I’d recommend broiling the dish once more so the mozzarella melts over the eggplant and tomatoes.

Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil is a neutral oil with a high smoke point, making it ideal for frying. Since the eggplant is shallow-fried in a pan you can substitute a richer oil like olive oil.

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How to Make Eggplant Parmesan

  • Salt eggplant slices. Arrange eggplant slices on a paper towel lined baking sheet. Season generously with salt, alternately layering paper towels and eggplant slices. Top with another baking sheet to weigh the slices down. Let sit for about 30 minutes to drain some of the water from the eggplant.
  • Mix the breading. Add the panko, Parmesan, red pepper, garlic powder and black pepper to the bowl of a food processor. Puree until the mixture is fine. Add to a large mixing bowl and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl whisk the eggs and buttermilk together.
  • Heat oil. Add enough oil in a cast iron pot or heavy bottomed skillet to reach about 1” up the side of the pot. Heat the oil to 350ºF.
  • Dredge the eggplant slices. Working in batches a few slices at a time, dip a piece of the eggplant in the egg wash then dredge in the flour mixture, shaking off any of the excess.
  • Fry the eggplant. Slowly add to the oil and fry until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining eggplant.
  • Assemble and serve. Divide the fried eggplant slices between small bowls. Top with ½ cup of the warmed marinara followed by a piece of burrata. Garnish with oregano and serve immediately.
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How to Make the Eggplant in the Oven

While it is ideal to fry the eggplant so it gets crispy and golden brown all over before the slices are layered you can bake the eggplant in the oven if desired.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange the slices of coated eggplant on a baking sheet in an even single layer and drizzle with about 1/4 cup of oil. Bake until crispy on both sides, flipping the slices half way through cooking, about 30 to 40 minutes. Continue with the recipe as directed below.

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Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Eggplant Parmesan with Burrata

Print Pin
Prep Time 35 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium eggplants, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • 2 cups panko
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • Vegetable oil, as needed for frying
  • 2 cups marinara of choice, heated
  • 8 ounces burrata
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

Instructions:

  • Arrange eggplant slices on a paper towel lined baking sheet and season generously with salt, alternately layering paper towels and eggplant slices. Top with another baking sheet to weigh the slices down. Let sit for about 30 minutes to drain some of the water from the eggplant.
  • Add the panko, Parmesan, red pepper, garlic powder and black pepper to the bowl of a food processor and puree until fine. Add to a large mixing bowl and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl whisk the eggs and buttermilk together.
  • Add enough oil in a cast iron pot or heavy bottomed skillet to reach about 1” up the side of the pot. Heat the oil to 350ºF.
  • Working in batches a few slices at a time, dip a piece of the eggplant in the egg wash then dredge in the flour mixture, shaking off any of the excess.
  • Slowly add to the oil and fry until golden brown, about 1 minute on each side. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining eggplant.
  • Divide the fried eggplant slices between small bowls. Top with ½ cup of the warmed marinara followed by a piece of burrata. Garnish with oregano and serve immediately.

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