Eggplant often gets neglected in my kitchen — without any obvious reason. But no more! This simple yet delicious dish proves that eggplant is truly the queen of the veggies. Thick slices of eggplant are brushed with olive oil, and seasoned with lemon pepper and salt: then freshly grated Parmesan is added in the middle of baking to produce a tasty, crispy, crusty surface you won’t be able to resist!
Tips for making the Olive Oil Roasted Eggplant with Lemon Pepper and Parmesan
This is a relatively easy dish. Nothing complicated here: just follow the instructions and you will succeed.
At first 3 tablespoons olive oil might look like quite a lot. Don’t worry: you’ll need to use plenty of oil because the eggplant slices eagerly absorb it. They’re like little sponges! But there is such a thing as too much, too, and if you overdo the oil the result will be mushy. According to my experiments, 3 tablespoons is just perfect for 1 large eggplant.
Be sure to use good-quality extra virgin olive oil. Since it’s so rich in antioxidants, you’ll be able to heat it without worrying about turning it rancid. Plus, its taste is superior to lower-quality olive oils.
Choose lemon pepper that doesn’t have added salt. That way you can add as much (healthier!) natural salt as you need.
Another thing: Lemon pepper itself is relatively spicy, so you might want to use it sparingly, especially if you’re making this dish for kids.
Another key to success is to avoid overbaking the eggplant slices. If you bake them for too long, they’ll turn soggy and fall apart. They should retain a little bit of bite. In my oven, baking the eggplant for 30 minutes produces the perfect result. However, my oven is slightly broken (!), so your oven might require a shorter baking time. Keep your eye on the eggplant slices while they’re baking: If you think you have a powerful oven, you might want to add the Parmesan after baking the eggplant for just 10 minutes.
Now let’s take a look at how to make this delicious side dish:
Take a large eggplant and slice it into thick slices.
1/2 inch (a bit over 1 cm) thickness is good.
Place the eggplant slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Brush them generously with olive oil on both sides. Yes, on both sides.
Next, sprinkle the lemon pepper evenly on top of the slices.
Sprinkle the salt evenly on the slices, too. (Not on both sides, just on top.)
Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
Remove the baking tray from the oven and sprinkle grated Parmesan on top of each slice.
Return the tray to the oven and continue baking until the Parmesan is crispy and the eggplant is slightly soft. Don’t overbake: otherwise the eggplant will turn mushy! Total baking time should be something between 20 and 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
My Olive Oil Roasted Eggplant experiments
This is actually an old recipe of mine. But I made some improvements to it recently and was so satisfied with the result that I thought I really needed to post it here on my blog. I’m sure you’ll like it was much as I do!
I remember when I conducted my first olive oil roasted eggplant recipe experiments several years ago. I very seldom use eggplant, and when I do, I make a baba ganoush-type dish (but without tahini), or a low-carb moussaka.
However, this time I wanted to see whether I liked roasted eggplant slices themselves. I had roasted halved eggplants for baba ganoush, but now I wanted to see how roasted eggplant slices would work out.
I remember I conducted several experiments. I don’t know how I got the idea to brush the eggplant slices with olive oil. Maybe because I brushed the halved eggplants with olive oil before roastig?
Anyway, I remember I used far too little olive oil at first, and the eggplant slices turned out somewhat leathery. Using enough olive oil and brushing the eggplant slices on both sides solved this problem—and added some valuable fats to the dish, too.
After pondering which seasonings to use, I tried lemon pepper in one of my experiments. Ah, lemon pepper: the ultimate retro seasoning (at least in Finnish kitchens)! Lemon pepper used to be so trendy in the 80s. Retro or not, though, lemon pepper was the perfect seasoning for this dish. It lent a delightfully tangy note and a spicy, peppery flavor that complemented the fatty olive oil and mild eggplant beautifully.
Naturally, I used some salt, too. I sprinkled the lemon pepper and salt on the eggplant slices before baking them in the oven. After baking the slices for about 30 minutes, they looked golden brown and a little bit soft (but not mushy).
I could hardly contain myself! I tasted one piping-hot slice almost straight from the oven. It was really scrumptious! I was very surprised that the roasted eggplant slices had turned out so well, both taste- and texture-wise.
This week, I started re-experimenting with the recipe. First, I made the “plain” version, with eggplant, extra virgin olive oil, lemon pepper, and salt.
The result was surprisingly spicy. Yes, lemon pepper does contribute a bit of a kick, but my extra virgin olive oil also had a very peppery taste. Fascinating! Turns out the peppery olive oil works wonderfully in this dish.
My old recipe didn’t call for Parmesan (I had considered it as an idea for variation, but I didn’t try it to see how it would work in practice). But now, I really wanted to add some Parmesan to the mix. So I sprinkled grated Parmesan on each slice before baking.
But while the eggplant slices were in the oven, I began to smell something pungent, nearly burning. It was the Parmesan, and it had turned too brown!
What now? If I were to add the Parmesan after baking, it might melt on top of the hot eggplant slices, or it might stay just as it was: a dusting of grated Parmesan. But I wanted a crispy coating of Parmesan to contrast with the soft, juicy eggplant.
Maybe I could add the Parmesan halfway through baking. That way it would turn out crispy, but wouldn’t burn. Aha: that might work!
It did. My next experiment was a real success. Adding the Parmesan halfway through baking seemed to be just the right approach. Now, the juicy, slightly spicy eggplant slices were topped with perfectly crispy Parmesan—just as I had hoped!
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 large eggplant
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2-1 teaspoon lemon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon (or to taste) unrefined sea salt OR Himalayan salt
- 1/2 cup = 120 ml freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400 °F (200 °C).
- Slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch (1.3 cm) thick rounds.
- Place the eggplant slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Brush each slice on both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle lemon pepper and salt on top of each slice.
- After baking the eggplant for 10-15 minutes, remove the baking the sheet from the oven and sprinkle grated Parmesan on top of each slice.
- Return the tray to the oven and continue baking until done. (Total baking time should be about 20-30 minutes.)
- Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
you should salt the slices and leave them a while…then you cna rinse them if you like :). then carry on with your oiling etc…
I used to do that but didn’t find any benefit… moreover, it makes the slices mushy.