I particularly like the sauce for this dish. Of course, you can use a jarred sauce, and I've taken that shortcut many times. But if you have the time, try this sauce, because it's really good. If you like the taste of crispy fried eggplant, then you won't like this dish. I oven-fry the eggplant, using less oil. The flour and the oven-frying combined soften the eggplant, and it doesn't get crispy. The finished dish tastes great, but the texture is soft, not crispy. Eggplant Parmesan is a great meatless meal, and when it's done with less oil and calories and more protein, it's even better. Wonder of wonders: it's a dish Guy and I both agree on.
Melanzane Alla Parmigiana (Eggplant Parmesan)
Adapted from The Romagnolis' Table cookbook
Rating: 9 out of 10
INGREDIENTS: 1 medium-large eggplant
1/3 cup olive oil for sauce + extra to drizzle over eggplant
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
2 small onions, chopped
6 cups tomatoes, fresh or canned
6-8 large basil leaves (or substitute dried basil, about 1/2 tsp.)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
about 1/4 tsp. pepper, or to taste
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour + 3 Tbsp. soy flour (or just 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, if preferred)
1 cup Italian 5-cheese blend (or just grated mozzarella + Parmesan cheese)
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs (or plain breadcrumbs)
Slice the eggplant in half and salt the cut sides liberally; let stand about 20 minutes to get the bitterness out of them.
Prepare the sauce: Saute garlic and onion in oil till transparent using a medium saute pan or fry pan and medium heat. When the garlic is golden, you can discard it and add the tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Let simmer about 15 minutes.
Scrape the now-moistened salt off the eggplant and cut the halves into lengthwise slices no thicker than 1/2 inch. (My eggplant was long, so I cut each half into half to make shorter pieces.) Peel the skins, as they can be tough in a casserole. Dredge the slices in flour, coating them well, and lay them in a 10x15 baking pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Drizzle about 1/4 cup oil over the eggplant and bake at 375F for about 20 minutes, turning once halfway through. Drain on paper towels. (You can also fry the eggplant in hot oil if preferred.)
In an oven-proof baking dish or shallow casserole, spread a layer of tomato sauce, then a layer of eggplant. Sprinkle with some of the cheese. Repeat until everything is used up, finishing with sauce. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes, or till the bread crumbs are toasted and the cheese is melted. (This freezes very well, and for my family of 2, I usually make small casseroles, eating one and freezing the rest.)
And, P. S., I didn't have any fresh basil, so I used dried.