I found this recipe in my latest Bon Appetit magazine, looked through the ingredients and determined I only needed to purchase eggplants and went for it! Unfortunately, I didn’t read the recipe closely and the whole thing took close to three hours to get to the table. Halfway through the job, I decided it wasn’t worth it….until my family LOVED it. That sounds about right….
Marinara Sauce of your choice (I had some homemade sauce ready to go)
4 lb eggplants (I used two good sized), peeled and sliced lengthwise 1/2″ thick
3 c panko bread crumbs
1 1/2 t oregano
1 t black pepper
1 1/ c grated parmesan, divided
1 1/3 flour
5 large eggs
1 1/3 c olive oil
1/2 c chopped fresh basil
6 oz mozzarella, grated
8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
Lightly season the eggplant slices with salt and place in a single layer on several layers of paper towels inside a rimmed cookie sheet. Continue topping layer with more eggplant slices and paper towels and put something heavy on top for an hour to pull the moisture out of the eggplants. This is important because it gives the eggplant a creamy texture when baked.
Meanwhile, pulse panko, oregano, pepper and 3/4 c parmesan in a food processor until finely ground. Place in a shallow bowl. Place flour in another shallow bowl and eggs in a third bowl. Dredge each eggplant slice into the flour, then dip into the egg and finally into the panko crumb mixture. Place in a heated skillet (med high heat) with 2/ c olive oil. Cook as many eggplant slices at once as will fit into the skillet, turning once until golden brown, 3-5 minutes total. Transfer to paper towels and immediately press to absorb oil. Working in batches, repeat with remaining slices, adding the rest of the olive oil as needed. Allow to cool. It was at this point that I had decided this would be a one-time recipe!
Toss the chopped herbs, grated mozzarella and remaining parmesan into medium bowl. Spread 1 c marinara sauce over the bottom of a 13×9 baking pan (I used two 9 inch squares), top with a layer of eggplant slices, drizzle 1 c sauce over slices and sprinkle with one third of cheese mixture. Add another layer of eggplant, 1c sauce and half of remaining cheese and repeat layers. Cover with foil and bake 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from the oven and arrange fresh mozzarella slices over eggplant. Increase oven to 425 degrees and bake uncovered 15 minutes more. Allow to rest for 30 minutes before serving, topping with Italian herbs.
It’s a commitment, but like most things in life, well worth the effort. Makes 12 servings