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Classic Eggplant Parmesan

Classic Eggplant Parmesan // Karista's Kitchen

I can’t think of a better way to begin the new year than with this dreamy Classic Eggplant Parmesan.

It wasn’t long ago that I could hardly boil water.  I’m not kidding.  Years ago, anything I cooked could have caused a slow and painful death. Yep, I’m a tiny bit dramatic, but truly, it may not be far from the truth.

Back in the day, my signature meal was a sausage quiche I learned to make while living in Louisiana, fried chicken, biscuits, turkey kielbasa and sauerkraut and a few meals on the grill.  That was it. My culinary repertoire. On occasion I would branch out and follow a recipe just to make something different, but even then my culinary skills were terribly limited.

This is why I originally enrolled in culinary school almost 17 years ago – and as they say the rest is history. 😉

Of course, it didn’t help that I lived next door to the most incredible Italian home chef.  Unbelievably delicious scent’s drifting from next door right into my open windows – while I’m trying to prepare a decent meal and all I can think of is that I’d rather be eating at my neighbor’s house tonight.   Knowing how much I loved her cooking, my sweet neighbor would always bring me a sample.

Daniella’s eggplant parmesan was my favorite dish she made – olive oil fried eggplant layered among shredded mozzarella and homemade sauce.  A little bit of work but so worth every ounce of effort.  I’ve made eggplant parmesan for years now and tweaked the original recipe just a hair since those days.  Rather than labor over the flour, egg and breadcrumbs, I simply salt, pepper and flour the eggplant (I can be a lazy chef), lightly fry and then begin to layer.  Sometimes I’ll layer in a bit of herbed ricotta and I adore using whole milk mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella.  You can make your own sauce or use your favorite.

I like to make this in individual serving dishes but family style works just as well.  Serve with your favorite tossed green salad or THIS salad or THIS salad and I also love THIS salad, and some crusty Italian bread.

However you like to prepare this Classic Eggplant Parmesan, it will be a huge hit at your kitchen table.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,



Classic Eggplant Parmesan

Serving Size: 4-6

Classic Eggplant Parmesan

This is probably one of the most quintessential Italian dishes. Lush and rich in flavor as well as texture, this dish can stand on it’s own or be served as a lovely side dish.

Photos originally published in 2015 Dec/Jan Issue of Home By Design Magazine by Karista Bennett


  • 1-2 large eggplants, peeled and sliced about ¼ inch thick rounds or sliced lengthwise
  • Sea or Kosher salt
  • 2 cups Whole milk mozzarella, shredded or sliced
  • 1 cup Romano cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • ½ cup grated parmesan for garnish
  • 3 cups of your favorite tomato sauce


  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Salt the eggplant slices and let them sit in a colander in a large bowl for about 20-30 minutes to drain the excess liquid from the eggplant. Rinse the eggplant slices and pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Dust the eggplant slices with the flour, shaking off the extra flour. Using a large skillet or frying pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat.
  • Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, pan-fry the eggplant slices just until golden brown. Place the eggplant slices on a paper towel lined cookie sheet to absorb the excess oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
  • Once the eggplant slices have been browned, place ¼ cup of tomato sauce into the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish, or if using 2 eggplants, a 10x15x2 rectangular baking dish. You can also prepare this recipe in individual baking dishes.
  • Layer slices of eggplant over the tomato sauce and then top with a little more sauce and a layer of mozzarella and Romano and a little chopped fresh basil. Continue layering the eggplant, sauce, cheese and basil. I usually end up with 3-4 layers.
  • Cover with foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.
  • Remove the eggplant from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Slice into squares and serve with additional sauce and parmesan cheese.
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    Chicken Grilling Karista's Kitchen Sauces, Salsas and More vegetarian

    Cardamom and Ginger Spiced Yogurt Sauce

    Cardamom and Ginger Spiced Yogurt Sauce over Roasted Eggplant

    I’ve been a member of several book clubs over the years.  Each time, I joined with the exuberance of a puppy playing with a new bone.  Excited about all the new books I’d be discovering and reading, all the new friendships to be made and girlfriend time to be savored.

    Unfortunately each time, my enthusiastic participation ended much too soon.  Either work or other commitments inhibited my attendance and sometimes my busy schedule caused my eyes to close 15 minutes into opening my book.

    Yep, book clubs have come and gone and with them my humiliation of not being able to meet my reading or attendance commitment.  My head bows in shame and disappointment.

    So when I was asked to join this “new” kind of book club, I was a little hesitant.  Until I realized it was right up my alley, Cook this Book.  I have no problem staying awake reading cookbooks.  Browsing the beautiful pages of deliciousness that sometimes inspires new culinary creations or simply reminds me of one I haven’t prepared in years.  A discovery of new types of cuisine and how it relates to the culture it originates.  Exciting!

    Even more exciting, the dynamic and brilliant women that are part of this book club.  Writers, chef’s, professors, food bloggers, professionals and of course fellow lovers of all things foodie, lovely, gracious women from all walks of life.

    Roasted chicken with cardamom and ginger spiced yogurt sauce

    Cardamom and Ginger Yogurt Sauce with Roasted Chicken

    The event has come and gone and my taste buds have never sampled such a mingling of beautiful and fragrant flavors.  Our book for the month was Claudia Roden’s The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.  Middle Eastern cuisine encompasses a variety of styles and flavors that creates a plethora of dinner options.

    One particular dish from this book is now one of my family’s favorites.  A spiced yogurt sauce that is laced with cardamom and ginger and so beautifully compliments poultry, lamb and grilled or roasted vegetables.

    Honestly, I kept sticking my spoon in the sauce bowl, swiping mouthfuls of the sauce when no one was looking.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Cardamom and Ginger Spiced Yogurt Sauce for Roasted Chicken or Vegetables

    Serves 4-6


    2 cups plain whole milk yogurt

    1 teaspoon ground cardamom, or the seeds toasted and crushed

    1 1/2 inches fresh ginger, grated

    1 small onion, finely diced

    Serve with roasted or grilled chicken pieces, pan seared chicken cutlets or roasted eggplant, winter squash and zucchini.


    In a bowl, mix the yogurt with the cardamom and ginger.  Set aside while you saute the onions.  Heat a skillet and a tablespoon or two of oil over medium heat and saute the onions until golden.  Remove the onions from the heat and stir in the spiced yogurt.  Do not put your skillet over the heat or your yogurt will separate.  The warmth of the skillet and onions will warm the yogurt nicely.

    Serve the spiced sauce with grilled or roasted chicken pieces, pan seared chicken breast cutlets or roasted eggplant, zucchini or winter squash.  I love a dollop of this yogurt sauce over a roasted butternut squash. 🙂

    Recipe ever so slightly adapted from Claudia Roden’s New Book of Middle Eastern Food

    Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Eggplant Parmesan

    I think I’m going through an eggplant phase.  Last week I craved a slow cooked ratatouille  and ended up testing three different recipes.  The result was so yummy I had to blog it.

    So you’d think I’d be tired of eggplant by now.  But I’m thinking eggplant parmesan sounds like another perfect eggplant dish to satisfy my eggplant craving.

    Every time I prepare this divine little dish I think of my friend Daniella LaDolce.

    When I lived next door to Daniella, I would open my windows and catch the most delicious smells coming from her house.   I would secretly hope  Daniella would bring me some leftovers the next morning.  And she usually did.  🙂

    Daniella prepares the most delicious Italian food.  My favorite is her Eggplant Parmesan.  I love this dish so much, I probably made it 20 times before the Bennett Crew finally asked me to take it off the dinner menu.

    Well, it’s back!  And I still love it, as much as I did twelve years ago.  And guess who else loved it?  You got it, the Bennett Crew.  Ranger Craig couldn’t get enough, every time he went back to the kitchen I noticed a little more eggplant parmesan missing from the baking dish.  Tink wanted to take the entire tray of eggplant parmesan back to college and Suzie Q decided it was her new favorite dish… again.

    Thanks Dani for sharing with me your friendship, love of great food, and your eggplant parmesan recipe!

    Daniella’s Eggplant Parmesan

    I love this recipe, but when I’m feeling just a little bit lazy I skip the breadcrumbs and eggwash and lightly dust the eggplant in a little flour.  Then I proceed with the recipe as written.  Voila!  A quick Eggplant Parmesan.


    1 -2 eggplant,  peeled (if you like) and sliced about ¼ inch thick slices


    2 cups fresh mozzarella, shredded or sliced

    1 cup Romano cheese, shredded

    2 eggs whisked with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt and pepper

    1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

    ½ cup flour

    Salt and fresh cracked black pepper

    Safflower or Olive oil (or a mixture of both)

    Chopped fresh Italian parsley (for garnish)

    3 cups simple tomato sauce (recipe to follow)


    Preheat the oven to 350F.

    Salt the eggplant slices and let them sit in a colander in a large bowl to drain the excess liquid from the eggplant.  Rinse the eggplant slices and pat dry with a paper towel.

    Fill three plates, one with the flour, one with the egg wash and one with the bread crumbs.  Heat about one cup of oil over medium heat in a large sauté or fry pan.  You may need to add oil during frying.

    Dip each slice of eggplant in the flour, shaking off the excess.  Next, dip in the egg wash and then into the bread crumbs.  Pan fry the eggplant slices just until golden brown.  Place the eggplant slices on a paper towel lined cookie sheet to absorb the excess oil.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

    Once the eggplant slices have been browned, place ¼ cup tomato sauce into the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish, or if using 2 eggplants, a 10x15x2 rectangular baking dish.  Mix together the mozzarella and Romano cheeses.  Layer slices of eggplant over the sauce and then top with a little more sauce and a sprinkling of cheese mixture.  Continue layering the eggplant, sauce and cheese.  I usually end up with 3-4 layers.

    Cover with foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.  Remove the eggplant from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.  Slice into squares and serve with additional sauce and parmesan cheese.

    Simple Tomato Sauce

    1 28oz can tomato sauce (I like Muir Glen Organic Tomato Sauce)

    2 tblsp olive oil

    1 onion small diced

    3 cloves garlic, small diced

    ½ cup dry red wine (optional)

    1 tsp dried oregano (or ½ tsp fresh chopped oregano)

    1 tablespoon tomato paste

    Pinch of red pepper (optional)

    Salt and pepper to taste


    Heat a sauce pan on medium heat and add a drizzle of oil and the onions.   When the onions have become translucent, add the garlic and sauté just until fragrant.  Do not brown the garlic as it will taste bitter.  Add the red wine to the onions and garlic and reduce the wine by half.

    Add the tomatoes, oregano, tomato paste and red pepper.  Mix thoroughly.  Bring to a lively simmer and then turn down the heat to a slow simmer.  Taste the sauce for salt and pepper.

    Let the sauce simmer for about 5-10 minutes.  If the sauce appears to think, add about ¼ cup of water at a time to thin the sauce.  Taste again for seasoning.

    A little tip:  if your sauce tastes a little to “bright” or has too much acidity, try adding a pat of butter to your sauce to mellow out the acid.

    Buon Appetito!

    Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Roasted Ratatouille with Fresh Herbs served over Toasted Baguette Slices

    It was a busy first day of the work week and once again I arrived home late with all my grocery bags in hand, only to realize it was 5pm.  Great.  I knew I had something in mind for dinner but I couldn’t remember what it was.

    I checked my frig and thanked myself for thinking ahead (by one day!) and purchasing a beautiful piece of Alaskan Halibut the day before.  I know what you’re thinking.  It’s what I was thinking.  What am I going to do with that beautiful piece of Halibut?  Ha!  The million dollar question, right?  

    Well, I’m feeling oh so very smug right about now.  No, actually I feel a little bit brilliant.  Because not only did I use my beautiful piece of halibut, I also used my sad-looking eggplant (that didn’t get used for eggplant parmesan), 4 bright green organic zucchini that have been waiting to be used in my whole grain zucchini muffins (that obviously is not going to happen now),  and one brilliant shade of yellow pepper that I bought because frankly, it was so beautiful.  Add in my Walla Walla sweet onion, organic garlic, fresh rosemary and sage, 5 or 6 juicy red tomatoes and I had a sweet and distinctly rich ratatouille to serve with my halibut. 

    My secret surprise?  A toasted garlicky baguette slice under the flavorful ratatouille!  Ahhh… life is good. (for tonight anyway 🙂 )

    Roasted Ratatouille with Fresh Herbs

    This little dish does have quite a few “steps”, however, if you prep all your veggies first and then follow the steps the dish will come together beautifully.  Once you’ve prepared this dish a few times (hopefully you’ll like it that much!) it will become easier to pull all the steps together more quickly.  This is such a great way to use all that spring, summer and fall produce. Feel free to substitute with different types of squash, but always add the eggplant… it gives this dish its signature sweet flavor. 


    1 large eggplant, thick sliced (or 2 smallish eggplant)

    4 small zucchini (or 2 very large zucchini), thick sliced

    1 sweet onion, halved and sliced

    4 cloves garlic, chopped

    1 yellow or orange bell pepper, roasted and diced

    4 large summer tomatoes, or use 5-6 canned organic whole tomatoes, chopped

    1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

    1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage (or more if you like sage)

    2 tablespoons butter

    Olive oil

    salt and pepper

    1 baguette, sliced (either multi grain or French)


    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.  I use my convection oven option when roasting veggies.  If you don’t have convection oven options, roast the veggies at 425F.  Layer the sliced eggplant on a cooling rack or platter and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Let them sit for about 15 minutes or so to eliminate excess liquid. 

    While the eggplant are resting, place the sliced zucchini on a parchment lined cookie sheet and drizzle with a little oil, salt and pepper.  Roast the zucchini until they look toasty but not too soft, about 8-10 minutes. (I’ve tried roasting the eggplant and zucchini together to save time, however, the two veggies don’t cook evenly for the same amount of time)

    While the zucchini are in the oven, heat a large skillet on medium and add the butter and a drizzle of olive oil.  Once the butter is frothy, add the sliced onions and saute until nicely wilted and a little golden about 5-8 minutes.  Next add the garlic and saute for an additional minute or two. 

    When the zucchini are done, add them to the onions and garlic.  Fold in the diced roasted yellow pepper and the chopped tomatoes and any juices that accumulated.  Let this sit over low heat while you put the eggplant in the oven. 

    Next, rinse the eggplant and quarter the slices.  Season the eggplant once again with salt and little black pepper and drizzle with a bit of oil.  Place in the oven and roast for about 8-10 minutes or until a little toasty and soft to the touch. 

    When the eggplant is done, add them to the veggies in the skillet.  If using canned tomatoes I like to add about 1/4 cup of the tomato juice to the skillet. 

    Toss in the rosemary and sage and then taste for salt and pepper.  Turn off the heat and let the veggies sit so the flavors can meld together while you prepare the baguette slices.

    Place the baguette slices on a parchment lined cookie sheet and brush with a little olive oil.  Toast in the 400F oven until lightly golden brown.  When they are done remove them from the oven.  Slice a clove of garlic in half and rub the garlic on each of the baguette slices.  The bread will be hot so be careful.

    To serve, place a baguette slice in the bottom of a bowl or on a plate and top with the ratatouille.  Serve with grilled fish, chicken, pork or beef or all by itself as a hearty lunch or light dinner.