Expert Guide
© Hector Sanchez

This Italian-American casserole is a fantastic comfort food dish. With eggplants and tomatoes coming into season, now is the best time to make this crowd-pleaser.

1. Classic. With lightly fried eggplant, plenty of ooey-gooey mozzarella and a crispy bread crumb top, this recipe is the one to make when you’re craving the dish of your childhood. For the full experience, just add a checkered tablecloth, a bottle of Chianti and some Frank Sinatra.

2. Grilled. For a lightened take, grill the eggplant and tomatoes before baking them with a cheesy topping. (Bonus: this dish also comes together more quickly, because you don’t have to make a sauce.) Or, skip the final baking step, making a deconstructed version of the dish with the grilled vegetables and a sprinkling of cheesy bread crumbs.

3. Sandwich. Stuff an over-the-top eggplant parm on a long roll or serve it open-face, on garlic bread. Or lighten it up, using grilled eggplant and tomatoes.

4. With chicken. Can’t decide between chicken parm and eggplant parm? You don’t have to.

5. Personal-size. Layer the ingredients in ramekins for individual timbales.

6. In pasta. Pull the dish apart in this pasta version, tossing sautéed eggplant with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and penne.

7. Salad. Bake Parmesan cheese until crisp, then let it cool over the bottom of a bowl. Serve the cheesy cups with an eggplant salad. Fussy? Maybe. Adorable? Absolutely.

8. Italian-style. Isn’t the dish from Italy, you ask? Yes, but for a more “authentic” version, layer in hard-boiled eggs.

Kristin Donnelly is a former Food & Wine editor and author of the forthcoming The Modern Potluck (Clarkson Potter, 2016). She is also the cofounder of Stewart & Claire, an all-natural line of lip balms made in Brooklyn.

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