Alex Guarnaschelli's Eggplant Parmesan Recipe With A Twist

Eggplant parmesan (aka "eggplant parmigiana") is one of those classic dishes that we've come to expect on Italian restaurant menus — along with chicken parm and veal parm. And celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli has the most amazing recipe for a traditional eggplant parmigiana that fans love. But several things distinguish eggplant parm from its animal protein peers. One is, of course, that it is made with eggplant, rather than an animal protein, as its foundation. Another is that eggplant parm is actually the OG Italian parm dish, according to La Cucina Italiana, with chicken (not to mention veal and shrimp) being American additions to the Italian-style oeuvre (via LA Times). And that got us thinking. 

Just because the traditional recipe for eggplant parmesan comes from Italy, that doesn't mean it couldn't possibly benefit from another cultural influence. In fact, recipe developer and dietician Jaime Bachtell-Shelbert, who blogs at Wholly Nourished, has put her own twists on Guarnaschelli's recipe, one of which comes to us via the Loire Valley of France (via I Love Imported Cheese): goat cheese, with all its lip-smacking, smooth, earthy tartness. But there are still more twists to come, thanks to Bachtell-Shelbert. If you're as intrigued as we were, then do read on. 

What did we change?

At its foundation, Bachtell-Shelbert's creation is Guarnaschelli's crowd-pleasing eggplant parmesan recipe, to which Bachtell-Shelbert then adds a taste of France through the clever addition of creamy goat cheese. She tells us, "As a registered dietitian, I like to sneak more veggies into dishes wherever I can." And she does just that with this recipe, adding vegetables and then more vegetables, while also leaving room for the possibility of adding still MORE vegetables. Specifically, she adds 1 cup of shredded carrots and 3 cups of shredded kale to Guarnaschelli's recipe. However — and this is kind of everything — you can actually add in any vegetables you like, and Bachtell-Shelbert wholeheartedly encourages you to do so. "You can add in whatever you like really...shredded zucchini, mushrooms and even diced cauliflower would work well," she explains. "It really works well in a tomato sauce."

Oh, and there's one more twist, and if you're watching your fat intake, then this could be even bigger than the veggies. Instead of deep-frying the eggplant as Guarnaschelli does, Bachtell-Shelbert's eggplant parmesan recipe relies on pan-frying for a healthier but still tasty result.

Gather your ingredients

For Bachtell-Shelbert's goat cheese-infused recipe for Guarnaschelli's eggplant parmesan, you will, of course, need goat cheese — 8 ounces of it to be exact (crumbled or cut into ¼-inch rounds), along with 16 ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese. You'll also need 2 medium-sized eggplants, washed and cut into ½-inch rounds. 

For the tomato sauce, which you might be surprised to find you're easily making from scratch, you'll need 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, three medium yellow onions (peeled, halved, and cut into thin slices), six cloves of garlic (minced), salt, 1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper, 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar, 1 cup of shredded carrots, three 28-ounce cans of San Marzano whole plum tomatoes, and 3 cups of shredded kale.

For the eggplant, you'll need ½ cup of all-purpose flour, salt and pepper, five large eggs, 3 tablespoons of whole milk, 4 cups of Italian-style breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon of dried oregano, and 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme for the breading. You'll also need 4 tablespoons of butter and another 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil for cooking the eggplant (two for each batch of eggplant you'll be pan-frying). To top it all off, you'll need two handfuls fresh basil (leaves only, torn). 

Preheat your oven, and get your sauce started

Start by preheating your oven to 350 F so that it will be ready for baking your eggplant parm when you're done with the prepping — which will go faster than you probably are expecting. Now, let's turn to the tomato sauce. In a skillet or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering, then add the onion and garlic, and season with salt and the red pepper flakes. Stir occasionally until the onions are soft and becoming translucent (three to four minutes).

Finish up the sauce with another couple of twists

Before we get to turning the onions and garlic, it's time to add in two of Bachtell-Shelbert's twists on Guarnaschelli's original recipe. We'll be lending additional sweetness to the tomato sauce in the form of shredded carrots and adding the nutritional punch of the superfood, kale. Stir the carrots into the sauce, along with the sugar, and allow to cook for one to two minutes.

Then add the tomatoes (still over medium heat). Although the tomatoes will break themselves up into smaller pieces, you can get things going by using a wooden spoon to break some of them up yourself. Cook for another 10 to 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring from time to time. 

Then add the kale to cook for a about two minutes, and turn off the heat and set aside.

Bread your eggplant slices next

To prepare the breading for this eggplant parmesan recipe, get out three bowls. Into one, stir together the flour with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Into another, whisk the eggs and milk, adding salt and pepper. In the third bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs with the oregano and thyme leaves and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. 

To bread the eggplant, one at a time, dip each eggplant slice into the flour, shaking to remove any excess. Then dip into the egg mixture. Then dip into the breadcrumbs. In each case, make sure to coat both sides of each eggplant slice, and then place in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment. 

In yet another twist from the original, pan-fry your eggplant

As mentioned earlier, one of the twists that Bachtell-Shelbert makes on Alex Guarnaschelli's eggplant parmesan recipe is that she substitutes pan-frying of the eggplant slices in place of deep-frying. To get your pan-fry going, just heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat, and when you see it shimmering, add the eggplant slices in batches — avoiding crowding. Pan-fry until they are golden brown and crisp, about two minutes on each side and adding additional oil and butter between batches as needed. 

Transfer the eggplant slices to a wire rack as the others cook.

Assemble your eggplant parmesan with a twist, and bake

To assemble your eggplant parmesan, grab a casserole dish or 9x13-inch baking dish and spoon half the tomato sauce onto the bottom. Top with a layer of the pan-fried eggplant slices. Then top that with half the mozzarella and half the goat cheese. Top with a layer of torn basil leaves. Then repeat these three layers, ending with the basil.

Place the dish in the top part of the preheated oven, and cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly, around 35 to 40 minutes. If you want an extra brown cheesy top, broil for a minute or two before removing it from the oven. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. 

Thanks to the extra veggies and cheese twist, this dish is hearty enough to serve on its own! We think Ms. Guarnaschelli would appreciate this eggplant parm with some twists.

Alex Guarnaschelli's Eggplant Parmesan Recipe With A Twist
5 from 12 ratings
We love Alex Guarnaschelli's delicious eggplant parm, but we've made it healthier with some interesting twists! Try it out for your next weekend meal.
Prep Time
15
minutes
Cook Time
1
hour
Servings
6
Servings
Alex Guarnaschelli's eggplant parm with goat cheese
Total time: 1.25 hours
Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 medium yellow onions, peeled, halved, and cut into thin slices
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 3 (28-ounce) cans San Marzano whole plum tomatoes
  • 3 cups shredded kale
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 4 cups Italian-style breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 medium eggplants, washed and cut into ½-inch thick rounds
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 16 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled or cut into ¼-inch rounds
  • 2 handfuls fresh basil, leaves only, torn
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the onion and garlic, season with salt and red pepper flakes, and cook until the onions are softened and slightly translucent, around 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Add the sugar and the carrots, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more.
  5. Add the tomatoes, using a wooden spoon to break them up as needed, and cook 10 to 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring from time to time.
  6. Add the kale. Stir and cook for 2 minutes more. Set aside to cool.
  7. Put the flour in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  8. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk and season with salt and pepper.
  9. In a third bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the oregano and fresh thyme leaves and season with more salt and pepper.
  10. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  11. Dip each eggplant slice in the flour and shake off any excess. Then, dip in the egg mixture, and finally in the breadcrumbs. Arrange the breaded eggplant slices in single layers on the baking sheet.
  12. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter to a large skillet over medium heat.
  13. Add the eggplant slices to the skillet in batches. Cook until they are golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the cooked slices to a wire rack as the others cook.
  14. Add 2 more tablespoons of oil and 2 more tablespoons of butter to cook the remaining slices. Transfer the cooked slices to the wire rack.
  15. To assemble, spoon about ½ of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan. Top with a layer of the pan-fried eggplant slices. Top the eggplant with ½ of the mozzarella and ½ of the goat cheese. Top the cheese with a layer of torn basil leaves.
  16. Repeat building the layers.
  17. Place the dish in the top part of the oven and cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 35 to 40 minutes.
  18. To achieve an extra brown cheesy top, broil for 1 to 2 minutes.
  19. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 1,088
Total Fat 57.4 g
Saturated Fat 26.6 g
Trans Fat 0.3 g
Cholesterol 260.8 mg
Total Carbohydrates 101.9 g
Dietary Fiber 16.7 g
Total Sugars 28.5 g
Sodium 2,188.3 mg
Protein 46.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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