My Eggplant Parmesan recipe is sponsored by Ragu, all ideas and opinions are my own.
Hi there, I hope you had a great weekend! So I have a question for you: When I tell you I’m sharing my Great Aunt Marie’s Eggplant Parmesan recipe with you today, does it make you think I’m Italian? Well nope, I’m not. Not a lick. Primarily German and British with a dash of Irish and French thrown in. Practically everything but! And while the resemblance to my parents is too strong to think I could possibly be adopted, the only other possible answer is that something is missing in our family tree that proves I have a little Italian in me.
I feel Italian.
Are you thinking, how do you feel Italian? Well, it’s the strong family traditions, the innate comfort found in carrying on those traditions, and of course the love of food (Italian food, specifically)! I identify so strongly with Italian values that I’m just sure that I’m related Assunta Cantisano.
I have old, tattered recipes from my grandmother that I so treasure, and that I will look forward to passing down to my children someday (when I have them, that is). Since we’re not Italian, I don’t have any Italian recipes that have been passed down to me per se, but since I’m sure I’m related to Assunta Cantisano, I carry on the tradition of her home grown sauce.
Assunta’s story is truly inspiring, especially to me as a family AND career driven women. When she moved to Rochester from Italy, she cooked up loads of her special family sauce and sold it on her porch, striving for the proverbial American dream for she and her family. Eventually her sauce, which would become Ragu, could be found coast to coast and remains America’s favorite to this day.
Even before I learned about Assunta’s inspiring story though, Ragu has always been my favorite sauce. I appreciate that they use farm fresh ingredients, no artificial flavors and that you can actually see and the bite into the chunks of tomato.
One of my favorite Italian recipes that has become a tradition in our family is my Great Aunt Marie’s Eggplant Parmesan Stacks. My mom and I experienced them for the first time while visiting Aunt Marie in California 20 years ago. I actually didn’t think I liked eggplant until I tasted Aunt Marie’s masterpiece. One of the reasons I hadn’t liked eggplant was the mushy texture. For me, the texture of a food can be a deal breaker, regardless of the taste; anyone else? I learned that the way to eliminate the mushy-ness is to sprinkle sea salt on the eggplant after its been sliced. It helps the eggplant to “sweat out” the excess water that leads to the mush factor.
This recipe is so easy to make and every single time I whip it together I think of my dear Great Aunt Marie. To me that is one of the best things about food; the emotion and memories that it can evoke. And evoke these flavors do! The tomato, garlic, onion and herbs from the Ragu make a beautiful harmony of flavors that mingle in your mouth with every bite. The cheese of course, because… well, cheese! The Basil tip-toeing on top round out the dish with the perfect touch of sweetness.
I hope you will enjoy Aunt Marie’s Eggplant Parmesan as much as we do, and I would absolutely love it if you decide to make it a tradition with your family! 🙂
- 2 medium sized Eggplants, sliced 1/2" thick
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 1/4 cups Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 11/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 jar Ragu Chunky Tomato, Onion & Garlic Pasta Sauce
- 1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cups finely grated Mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped Basil
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Cut Eggplant into 1" slices. Lay sliced eggplant on a drying rack or paper towels and sprinkle with sea salt. Allow to sit 5 minutes and absorb beaded water with a paper towel. Repeat on the other side.
- Layer Ragu Chunky Tomato, Onion & Garlic Pasta Sauce in the bottom of a small casserole dish, set aside.
- Combine Panko, Italian seasoning, 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and pepper in a shallow bowl.
- Stir 2 eggs in a shallow bowl until yolks and whites are blended. Dip each Eggplant slice in egg mixture, coating both sides thoroughly, followed by coating them with the Panko mixture.
- Add 1/2 of the Eggplant slices into the casserole dish on top of the Ragu and top with a couple of tablespoons (ish) of Ragu on each slice of coated eggplant.
- Place onion slices on top of each piece and top with the remaining eggplant slices.
- Pour remaining Ragu over Eggplant stacks and top with 1 cup shredded Mozzarella.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and top with remaining Mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake for another 5 - 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.
- Serve topped with chopped Basil.
You can also check out many other delicious recipe ideas from Ragu here!
What are some of your family food traditions? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!