A hearty dish to pair well with a glass of our Zin or Primitivo.
- 1 3/4 cps extra virgin olive oil (split 1/4 cp & 1 1/2 cps)
- 6 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/4 cp red wine (use red wine vinegar as an alternate)
- 2 28-oz cans whole peeled tomatoes
- 3/4 cp basil (1/4 split out)
- 1/2 tsp dried oregeno
- 1 1/2 cps water
- 4 lbs eggplant (around 4), peeled, sliced lengthwise
- 3 cps panko
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cps Parmesan, finely grated
- 1 1/2 cps flour
- 5 large eggs
- 1/4 cp finely chopped basil
- 1 1/3 cps low-moisture mozzarella, grated
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a heavy, ovenproof pot over medium heat.
Cook garlic and onions, about 10 minutes, until golden and translucent. Add red pepper flakes and tomato paste and heat about 2 additional minutes and then add the wine. Bring to a boil for one minute.
Add the tomatoes and break them up with a spoon. Add 1/4 cp of the basil and the oregano and stir to combine. Add the water to the two tomato cans and pour that into the pot. Season with salt to taste.
Transfer the pot to the preheated oven and roast for one hour. Stir the pot and cook an additional 1 to 1 1/2 hours. When finished, let the sauce cool slightly and then smooth the mixture in a food processer or immersion blender. Taste and season again with salt. This sauce can be made up to 2 days in advance.
Season the eggplant with salt and place each piece, single layer, on paper towels on a baking sheet. Top with another layer of towels slices. After covering the final layer with paper towels, place another baking sheet on top, or a heavy pot. Set aside and let the eggplant sit for one hour.
In a food processor, pulse panko, oregano, pepper, and 3/5 cup Parmesan until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the flour in another bowl, and blend the eggs in a third.
One at a time, take each eggplant slice and cover in the flour, dip in the eggs, and coat in bread crumb mixture. Shake off the excess and place on a wire rack.
Heat 2/3 cup EVOO in a large skillet over medium. Cook the slices, turning once, until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to absorb oil. Repeat until all of the eggplant is cooked, adding additional oil when needed. Let cool. Season with salt to taste.
Toss the remaining herbs, low-moisture mozzarella, and remainder of Parmesan in a medium bowl.
Spread one cup of the premade marinara in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Top with a layer of eggplant. Drizzle another cup of sauce and sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese mix. Repeat this process 2 more times. Cover with foil and bake 45-60 minutes until eggplant is custardy.
Remove from oven, remove foil, and arrange fresh mozzarella over the top of the casserole. Increase the temperature to 425 degrees and bake uncovered about 20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and golden.
Remove from the oven and let it rest for 30 minutes before serving. Top with basil leaves and serve.