Hello Friends! Remember last week when we did the Crunchy Baked Pork Chops? Yeah, I haven’t been able to get those crispy, crunchy, herby breadcrumbs out of my mind. So I thought, how about we try to bread eggplant with that breadcrumb recipe? I love Eggplant Parmesan, but one thing I do not like is the soggy situation that often happens. You go through all the trouble of getting that crunchy breaded exterior only to have it get soggy with tomato sauce and cheese. This happens less in sandwich form, but this recipe ensures a crunchy texture will remain for our sandwiches. Let’s do it: Super Crunchy Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich!
Another thing I love about this recipe and method is that the eggplant is cut thick, like a cutlet, it gets tender but not soggy. It makes this such a satisfying sandwich. So many textures and great chew. I like the eggplant to hold up under the sauce, cheese and bread; and not just smoosh into a breaded, saucy, cheesy mess. So I have 1/2″ thick slices, if you like them thinner, go with that!
Start with the breadcrumbs; we can get the sauce going while they are in the oven and prep the rest as they’re cooling down. Find the recipe for the super crunchy breadcrumbs from last week’s post: Crunchy Baked Pork Chops. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and make sure the rack is in the middle position. When the breadcrumbs come out of the oven, increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
Let’s get the sauce going while the breadcrumbs are baking, it can reduce while we prep the eggplant. I am using one 28-ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes that I crushed by hand. A teaspoon or so of tomato paste, half a shallot and a couple cloves of garlic, minced. I like to add a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to my tomato sauce. Feel free to add more or less garlic and shallot.
Over medium-low heat, sauté the shallot for a minute or two then add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds, then add the tomato paste and cook, stirring until the tomato paste darkens in color a bit. Then add the tomatoes and their juice, stir to combine and reduce heat to low. Toss in a bay leaf, if you have one. Let it gently simmer, stirring occasionally until it’s thickened up quite a bit. Then add some balsamic. Stir and continue to let simmer on low.
I like my sauce to be quite thick when it’s in a sandwich. So I let this gently simmer on very low, stirring occasionally until the eggplant came out of the oven. But you may want to take it off the heat entirely after it gets to this stage of thickness, and that’s totally fine.
In addition to the same breadcrumb recipe (but with more parmesan added to the mix) I am using the same breading technique that we did for those pork chops: dredging in flour, then an egg white/dijon/flour batter, then in the coarse bread crumbs. After the breadcrumbs come out of the oven and cool down, I mixed in the parsley, thyme and the parmesan, right on the cooled sheet tray. I piled the mixture up near the bottom the tray and set my sliced eggplant on a paper towel at the top. I like thick slices of eggplant, so these are about 1/2″ inch thick slices, more like cutlets. You can go thinner if you prefer. Here’s a view of my set up.
Bake the eggplant until the tops are golden brown. You can pull them when they’re looking toasty and golden and slice one in half to see if the eggplant is done enough to your liking. At about the 20-minute mark, I tested eggplant this way and it was super hot all the way through and the inside was tender.
Super Crunchy Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich Assembly
Kick the oven up to broil, but keep the rack in the middle position. I have hoagie rolls, cut in half with some of the bread scooped out of the top half to make a little trough for the sauce. It’s best to use fresh mozzarella for this recipe so it melts creamy and thick. The low moisture shredded mozzarella will not be as good. You can use Parmesan slices, or grated by hand if you like, I happen to have store-bought grated.
Brush olive oil on both sides of the bread and fill the troughs with tomato sauce. Then place fresh mozzarella on the sauce and liberally sprinkle the grated Parm on the other half. We are keeping the eggplant out of this part of the process to ensure nothing sogs up that crunchy exterior.
Slide the tray in the oven and watch it, the parmesan sides will need to come out before the sauce/mozz side is ready. It’ll only take about 30 seconds to one minute for the Parmesan side to get golden. Pull them out and let them sit for another minute or until the mozzarella is melted.
Since my eggplant slices are so thick, I am going to cut a single slice of eggplant in half and use both halves to cover the Parmesan side of the bread.
Top the mozzarella side with some fresh chopped parsley and top the eggplant with more Parmesan.
Then, carefully place the mozzarella/sauce side on top of the eggplant.
And there ya have it! Super Crunchy Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich. Not only is this the crunchiest, most flavorful Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches I have had, but cutting the eggplant thick really made for a crunchier, meatier sandwich, in my opinion. If you’re a fan of Eggplant Parmesan, definitely give this sandwich a try!
Thank you for stopping by today! Don’t forget, you can follow me over on Pinterest to get all the Djalali Cooks recipes – pin and share with your family and friends. Take care and be well everyone! xo Kelly
Super Crunchy Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich
Eggplant cutlets breaded in coarse, herby Parmesan breadcrumbs; baked and assembled in a hoagie roll with thick tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and grated parmesan.
- 1 Batch of Coarse Breadcrumbs from The Crunchy Baked Pork Chop recipe (see link in post for recipe)
- Tomato Sauce
- Drizzle of Olive Oil
- 2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1/2 Shallot, minced
- 1 tsp. Tomato Paste
- 1 28-oz. Can of Diced, Crushed or Whole (hand crushed) Tomatoes, with their juices
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1-2 tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
- Eggplant and Batter
- 1 small to medium Italian Eggplant, sliced into 1/2" thick cutlets (or thinner slices if you prefer)
- 1/4 cup Flour, plus 6 tbsp. Flour
- 3 Large Egg Whites
- 3 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
- 2-4 Hoagie Rolls, sliced in half with some bread scooped out of the top to make a trough
- 6-12 slices Fresh Mozzarella
- Grated Parmesan Cheese, eyeball it, use however much you like!
- Fresh Parsley, chopped
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Over medium-low heat, sauté the shallot for a minute or two then add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds.
Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring until the tomato paste darkens in color a bit.
Add the tomatoes and their juice, stir to combine and reduce heat to low.
Toss in a bay leaf, if you have one.
Let it gently simmer, stirring occasionally until it's thickened up quite a bit, about 7-10 minutes.
Then add some balsamic. Stir and continue to let simmer on low.
Place 1/4 cup flour in pie plate.
In second pie plate, whisk egg whites and mustard until combined; add remaining 6 tablespoons flour and whisk until almost smooth, with pea-sized lumps remaining.
Dredge eggplant cutlets in flour, then egg white mixture, them breadcrumbs. Pat the breadcrumbs onto the eggplant slices and transfer breaded slices to a wire rack placed in a sheet tray.
Bake eggplant for 20 minutes, or until the breading is golden and the eggplant is tender.
Switch oven to broil but leave the rack in the middle position.
Place the hoagie roll halves on a rimmed sheet tray.
Brush olive oil onto each side of cut hoagie roll.
Spoon tomato sauce into the trough created in each hoagie roll top. Lay fresh mozzarella slices on top of tomato sauce.
Sprinkle desired amount of Parmesan cheese on the other half of the hoagie roll.
Place in the oven and closely watch; the Parmesan cheese halves will be golden brown first (about 30 seconds to one minute)
Transfer the Parmesan sides to a cutting board and continue to watch the mozzarella sides and transfer out of the oven when the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Slice an eggplant cutlet in half and arrange each half to fit on the Parmesan side of the hoagie roll and sprinkle with more parmesan if desired.
Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley on the mozzarella side and turn the mozzarella side over, onto the eggplant. Slice sandwich in half.