Baked Eggplant Parmesan
For the marinara, you can use your own sauce or try the Quick Marinara with Toasted Garlic & Rosemary. Serve this hearty dish with a portion of pasta or between two slices of toasted Italian bread for a delicious sandwich.
Serves 6 to 8
2 medium globe eggplant (about 2 lbs.), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
4-1/2 ounces (1 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, beaten
3 cups dry fine breadcrumbs
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
Canola oil for frying (about 2 cups)
3 cups marinara sauce, warmed
16 basil leaves, torn into large pieces
10 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1-1/2 cups freshly grated Grana Padano
Line a large plate with paper towels. Put down a layer of eggplant slices, sprinkle generously with salt; add another layer of paper towels and another layer of eggplant and salt; repeat until you’ve layered the rest of the eggplant. Let sit for 20 minutes.
Put the flour and eggs in separate wide shallow bowls. In another wide bowl, toss the breadcrumbs with the thyme and 1/2 tsp. salt. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Dredge the eggplant slices in the flour, dip in the egg, and then coat with the breadcrumbs, pressing down to pat the crumbs onto the eggplant, and put on the baking sheet.
Line another baking sheet with fresh paper towels. Pour enough oil into a large (12-inch) skillet or frying pan to measure about 1/2 inch deep and heat over medium heat until hot (if you dip a piece of eggplant into the oil, it will sizzle immediately). Working in batches, add as much eggplant as will fit in a single layer and fry, flipping once, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat, frying the remaining eggplant and layering it between sheets of paper towel.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Arrange a layer of eggplant in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Top with 1 cup of the marinara and then cover with a third of the basil, mozzarella, and Grana Padano. Repeat with two more layers of the remaining eggplant, marinara, basil, mozzarella, and Grana Padano.
Bake until the cheese melts and browns and the sauce bubbles around the edges, 25 to 30 minutes (cover with foil if the top browns too quickly). Let cool for a couple minutes and serve.
photo: Maren Caruso
From Book Big Buy Cooking
, pp. 66
August 4, 2010