Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables. Once cooked the eggplant becomes silky and luxurious. I love it prepared any way but it truly shines parmesan style. Probably because it's surrounded in a delicious sauce and gooey, melted cheese. Here the eggplant is stacked into individual servings and layered with homemade marinara sauce and fresh mozzarella. I also skipped the frying to lighten it up a bit. This is delicious.
Ingredients for Eggplant Stacks:
serves 4 with leftovers
2 large eggplant, about 2 1/2 pounds
2 cups Italian Seasoned Breadcrumbs
1 cup flour
3 eggs + 1/4 cup water, lightly beaten in a pie dish
1 teaspoon kosher salt
a small handful of fresh basil leaves
1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
about a cup of grated parmesan cheese
enough for the stacks and 1 pound of pasta
2 - 28-ounce cans peeled plum tomatoes
1 carrot, finely diced
1 stalk of celery, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
4-5 fresh basil leaves
While you could use purchased sauce I wouldn't for this recipe. This recipe is so fresh tasting it really works well with the eggplant. I promise you will be so happy that you did.
You will also need two sheet pans. A few people have asked about which pans I use. Click HERE for more information.
Time-Saving Tip: The sauce can be made n advance and refrigerated a couple of days.
Let's see what we need.
We're ready to cook.
First make the sauce. Pour both cans of tomatoes into a blender. Swirl so it is no longer chunky. Set aside.
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil and add the carrots and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes; do not brown. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes Saute on low until garlic starts to turn golden. Pour the tomatoes into the pot. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and the basil. Give it a stir. Bring to a simmer and cover the pot. Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes; stir occasionally. Remove the cover and stir. Simmer uncovered another 20 minutes. Set aside.
Cut the eggplant into 1/2" slices. Place the eggplant in a singles layer on top of paper towels. Season both sides of all of the slices with a total of 1 teaspoon of salt. Let the eggplant sit for 45 minutes. Then using a paper towel pat all of the pieces dry.
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees. Set up a work station to "bread" the eggplant. I recommend using a pie dish to put the eggs and water. Pour the flour and bread crumbs on separate plates or pie dishes. One at a time, dip a piece of eggplant into the flour and shake off the excess, then dip it in the egg mixture until it is completely coated and then finally into the breadcrumbs. Shake off the excess crumbs and place the eggplant slices on a parchment-lined sheet pan that has been coated with cooking spray. Once all of the slices of eggplant is breaded spray the top of all of them with more cooking spray. Pop in the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes. The bottom of the slices should be brown; turn over and bake another 15 minutes or until light brown.
You know I love work stations. It really makes assembling things a lot easier. I like to make the eggplant stacks with 4 slices of eggplant each. So as you can see, I divided up the eggplant before I started putting the stacks together. I am more 4 stacks. Though I had about 7 extra slices that were smaller in circumference. ..perfect for kids. I sampled them. Okay, so here is the eggplant, the delicious homemade sauce, some basil leaves, grated cheese, and the sliced mozzarella. I also have a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. So each stack has 4 pieces of eggplant. Place the bottom piece on the parchment-lined sheet pan. In this order, cover with 1 tablespoon of sauce, 1/2 teaspoon grated cheese, a piece of mozzarella, and a few pieces of ripped up basil. Repeat this 2 more times per stack. Once complete, you will be left with 4 stacks that are "naked" on top. Save the nicest slices of cheese for the top slices of eggplant in the next step.
Now, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of sauce to the top piece of eggplant, 1/2 teaspoon of grated cheese, and a piece of mozzarella. Pop in the oven and bake until hot and bubbly; about 25 minutes more or less.
They're ready! I couldn't wait for another minute and ate some! This is totally delicious. Serve with extra sauce on the side and if you want, even some spaghetti.