This delicious Italian classic features eggplant rounds prebaked and laid on a bed of fresh mozzarella and covered in a delicious San Marzano tomato sauce seasoned with basil, pepper, and garlic.
2¼ pounds Globe eggplants (about 2 large)
Salt as needed
2 (28-ounce) cans whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup firmly packed chopped fresh basil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 cups breadcrumbs (such as Panko)
1¼ cups freshly shredded Parmesan, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, beaten
Olive oil, as needed, to coat the bottom of two sheet pans
1½ pounds fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into ¼-inch slices
Cut a small piece off the top and bottom off the eggplants. Peel the eggplant using a vegetable peeler. Cut the eggplants into ½-inch thick rounds. Place paper towels on a sheet pan. Place the eggplant slices on the paper. You can also place the eggplant slices on a baking rack placed over paper toweling. Sprinkle the eggplant rounds lightly with salt, cover with additional paper toweling, and let sit for two hours to release excess moisture.
While eggplant rounds are resting, prepare the tomato sauce. Place the tomatoes in a large bowl. Using your hands, break up the tomatoes, retaining the excess juice. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan on medium heat. Add the garlic and stir, cooking gently for about 30 seconds. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the tomatoes and juice. Increase the heat to a simmer then lower the heat to a very low simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered, to slightly reduce sauce. Add the fresh basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
Combine the breadcrumbs with ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese. Place in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, beat the eggs. In another bowl, place the flour. This will be your eggplant prep station.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat the bottom of two rimmed baking sheet pans with olive oil. Pat the eggplant slices dry with new paper towelsing. Working one at a time, dredge the eggplant slices into the flour, followed by the egg and finishing with the breadcrumbs. Place on the prepared sheet pans. Place the pans with the eggplant slices in the oven and bake for approximately 10 minutes. Turn the eggplant rounds over and continue to bake for another 10 minutes or until the slices are nicely browned. Remove from the oven and let rest until cool to the touch. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees.
Spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce over the bottom of a 9X13-inch casserole dish. Cover the bottom of the pan with a third of the eggplant rounds, creating a single layer. Layer half of the sliced fresh mozzarella on top then sprinkle with ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese. Place one third of the eggplant rounds on top of this layer followed by the remaining sliced fresh mozzarella and ⅓ cup of the Parmesan. For the final layer, make a layer with the remaining eggplant slices and top with the remaining sauce and grated Parmesan.
Bake, uncovered, in the 350-degree oven for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Mary DiSomma, Foodie, Author, Philanthropist, Mother, Wife and so much more...
Mary DiSomma, an enthusiastic and imaginative baker of cookies, is the author and publisher of A Gift of Cookies: Recipes to Share with Family & Friends. She is also a philanthropist, podiatrist, entrepreneur, and mother of four grown children.
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