This eggplant parmesan is delicious and very satisfying. It’s large enough to feed a big family, or you can freeze the leftovers and enjoy them for months to come. My favorite way to make eggplant parmesan is with homemade fresh tomato and ground beef sauce. This is when this dish truly shines. Made from scratch is always the simplest and the tastiest.
Eggplant Parmesan is a classic Italian dish that has become a staple in many households around the world. It’s a hearty and flavorful dish that combines crispy breaded eggplant, tangy tomato sauce, and creamy melted cheese. This dish becomes even more satisfying and filling when adding ground beef to the sauce.
My favorite time to make this dish is summer when locally grown tomatoes and eggplant ripen. This is when this dish is the tastiest. That said, you make eggplant parmesan at any time of the year and, boy, does it taste awesome in the middle of a cold winter.
One of the best things about eggplant parmesan is that it’s easy to make at home, and you can customize it to your liking. Below is my favorite recipe for homemade eggplant parmesan with tomato and ground beef sauce that will leave your taste buds satisfied.
To make the sauce, use good quality, tasty tomatoes. Tomato sauce made with fresh tomatoes will beat any store-bought tomato sauce in the taste department. Once you try a homemade tomato sauce, you can never go back.
Now, this recipe makes a large output. I make it in a 3-inch deep, 11″ x 15″ baking dish. This is big enough to feed 12 (or 8-10 very hungry) people. Since making eggplant parmesan, similar to lasagna, takes a fair bit of time, making a large one and saving the leftovers for later makes sense. This dish freezes very well.
To freeze it, I let it chill in the fridge overnight, cut it into individual portions, which are then pre-frozen for 12 hours to ensure they don’t crush during vacuum sealing. Next, I package the pre-frozen portions into freezer bags and vacuum seal them. Properly sealed and kept frozen, eggplant parmesan will stay fresh for 6-8 months.
- 2 medium eggplant
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 cups kefir or buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp granulated onion or onion powder
- 1 tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder
Tomato and Meat Sauce
- 8 lbs tomatoes cored, blanched, peeled and chopped
- 4 lbs lean beef
- 2 medium onions peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp kosher salt or sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1 Tbsp black pepper coarsely ground
- 1 cup chopped greens parsley, cilantro, oregano, basil, sage, etc.
- 1 Tbsp white sugar optional; or to taste; sweet tomatoes don't need added sugar
- 5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
To prepare the eggplant
- Remove stems, then rinse and dry the eggplant. Slice 1/4" thick lengthwise.
- Place the eggplant slices on a large tray, sprinkling each slice with some salt. Let rest for 30-45 minutes.
- Next, rinse under running water, dry with paper towels, and set aside.
To make the tomato meat sauce
- Add olive oil to a large pot, preferably in a large cast-iron jambalaya pot, and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions and cook, frequently stirring, until golden brown.
- Add the beef and cook, frequently stirring, until browned.
- Add the tomatoes, drizzle some olive oil on top, stir, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook, frequently stirring, until the sauce thickens and loses about 1/4 of the volume. This will take about 40-60 minutes.
To make the batter
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour and kefir or buttermilk. Adjust as needed, to get a slightly runny batter consistency. Season with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder.
To fry eggplant slices
- Preheat oil to 350F in a large cast iron pot or a deep fryer.
- Two-three at a time, dip the eggplant slices in the batter, then carefully lower into the hot oil. Cook several minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove and place on a tray lined with paper towels to remove excess oil.
To assemble eggplant parmesan
- Spread a ladlefull or two of the sauce on the bottom of an 11" x 15" deep baking dish. Next, arrange a layer of fried eggplant, followed by sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, and finished by grated Parmesan cheese. Repeat until all layers are completed.
Baking eggplant parmesan
- Cover with foil, ensuring that foil does not touch the top of the eggplant parmesan. Bake in preheated oven at 375F for 25 minutes.
- Remove foil and bake additional 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and serve.