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A cast iron skillet helps you achieve an eggplant Parm experience in just three moves and about 30 minutes, thanks to this clever recipe from cookbook author Dawn Perry.

Instead of breading and frying the eggplants in oil (which is where most eggplant Parms go off the rails), she quickly sears them in a skillet before topping them with cheese and marinara and baking them in the oven, then finishes the dish with a shower if crunchy panko-Parmesan topping.

Photo: Dawn K. Perry

Field Notes:

1.

For best results, look for smallish Italian eggplants, which have fewer seeds than their American counterparts.

2.

Leftovers, if you have any, are delicious eaten straight out of the fridge or smooshed onto a toasted roll.

Recipe: Cast Iron Skillet Eggplant Parm

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

Instructions

1.

Heat oven to 400°F. Season the cut sides of the eggplant with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a No.8 (or larger) Field Skillet over medium-high. Add two eggplant halves to the skillet, cut-side down and cook, undisturbed, until deeply browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Heat 2 more tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet and repeat with remaining two halves of eggplant. (Depending on the size of your eggplants and skillet you may not need to work in batches.)

2.

Snuggle all four eggplant halves back into the skillet, cut sides up (it’s OK if they don’t sit perfectly flat). Top with marinara and mozzarella and cover the skillet with foil. Bake until eggplant is very tender when pierced with a knife, 18 to 20 minutes.

3.

Meanwhile, toss panko, Parmesan and oregano with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, using your fingers to work the Parmesan into the breadcrumbs; season with salt and pepper. Uncover the skillet, scatter breadcrumbs over the eggplant, and return to the oven. Bake until breadcrumbs are golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool slightly and top with basil just before serving.


Seasoning Rating: OK

Acidic ingredients like tomatoes can affect seasoning, if left to sit in contact with your cooking surface for an extended period. But not to worry! Clean your skillet as soon as you can after cooking—even a thorough wipe-out with a paper towel is helpful—then follow the usual Field Method steps and just keep cooking.

Seasoning Ratings:

Best—These dishes are the best options for building resilient seasoning, and surefire choices for getting tricky pans back on track.

Better—The best way to keep your skillet in great shape is to cook frequently, and cast iron-friendly dishes like these are your bread and butter.

Safe—These recipes won't strip seasoning away from your pan, but won't really add any, either.

OK—Be sure to clean up promptly. Recipes with this rating might feature acidic ingredients which can affect seasoning if not washed soon after cooking.