Although I love all the ingredients in eggplant Parmesan, I'd never actually made it before until recently. I'm so happy I finally did, because this recipe was amazing! It's a bit healthier than some eggplant parm recipes because the eggplant is baked rather than fried - but, there's still plenty of cheese, making this a fairly rich dish. This recipe is a bit involved since it calls for making a tomato sauce from scratch, baking the eggplant slices, and then assembling the casserole and baking it. You could definitely make this more quickly by using store-bought tomato sauce, although the one included with the recipe is absolutely delicious. As with most casseroles, this keeps well in the fridge and reheats well, so it's a great option to make ahead for lunches or dinners later in the week.
Eggplant Parmesan (adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook)
For the tomato sauce:
2-3 T oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 pound, 12 ounce can crushed tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
6 ounce can tomato paste
1 T honey
Black pepper, to taste
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium eggplant, about 7 inches long
1/2 cup milk (more if needed)
1 cup panko (more if needed)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 pound grated mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1. Make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onion, pepper, herbs, and salt, and saute over medium heat until the onion is very soft (about 8 minutes).
2. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, honey, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20-30 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and cook about 10 minutes more. If desired, puree with a stick blender.
4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking tray with foil and lightly oil. Also lightly oil a 2-quart baking dish.
5. Prepare the eggplant. Slice it into 1/2-inch circles. Place the milk in a shallow bowl and the panko in another shallow bowl. Add the herbs to the panko and mix together. Dip each eggplant slice in milk, coating both sides, and then dip in the panko mixture, being sure to coat well. Spread in an even layer on the baking tray, and bake until tender (20-30 minutes). Leave the oven on.
6. Ladle some tomato sauce into the bottom of the baking dish and spread into an even layer. Add a layer of eggplant slices and top with another layer of sauce. Sprinkle with half the mozzarella cheese. Top with another layer of eggplant, sauce, and cheese (you will have extra sauce, which is great for pasta or pizza). Finally, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
7. Bake for about 40 minutes, until heated through and bubbling. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving.