This is a vamp on the traditional eggplant parmesan, usually served over/with pasta, but it uses a lasagne-like structure – sans the pasta.
Admittedly, it takes a little bit of work, but it is really filling and satisfying.
For 2-3 people:
For the sauce, you’ll need: Olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 large onion, 1 x 28oz can of crushed tomatoes, red wine, 1/2 apple (quartered with seeds removed), 1 Tbsp tomato paste, fresh oregano and basil, crushed red pepper, salt & pepper. And fresh mozzarella for the topping.
For the eggplant filling, you’ll need: 1 medium eggplant, 2/3 cup flour, 2-3 eggs, 1 cup breadcrumbs (panko or regular), finely grated parmesan cheese, salt & pepper.
Get the sauce going first. In a medium pot heat about 2 Tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the x2 chopped garlic cloves and 1/2 chopped onion. Sauté for about a minute until soft and then add about 1 Tbsp (each) chopped fresh oregano and basil and stir together for about 30 secs until fragrent. Add the can of crushed tomatoes, 1 Tbsp tomato paste, 1/2 cup red wine, 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper, x2 whole quarter apples (for sweetness) and salt & pepper to taste.
Let this simmer, partially covered over medium heat until thickened, about 20 mins. (Remove the apples after about 15 mins.)
Preheat oven to 350.
Meanwhile, cut the eggplant in half, lengthwise, then into 1/4″ halfmoon slices. In three shallow plates put – flour, beaten eggs and then breadcrumbs. Add salt & pepper to the flour and about 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese to the beaten eggs. Mix (all) well.
Moving from plate-to-plate, place each eggplant slice into each of the flour, eggs, breadcrumbs – and place onto a separate plate. (you may want to keep a “dry” hand and a “wet” hand; if you are working from left to right your left hand would be “dry” [flour] and your right hand would be “wet” [eggs/breadcrumbs]).
Cover the bottom of a saucepan with about 1/4″ of a mixture of olive oil and vegetable oil. Then heat until it starts to shimmer, but not to smoking.
Working in batches, place the breaded eggplant into the oil and cook until browned, about 5 mins on each side. Drain on a paper towel covered plate.
In a ceramic (or metal if you don’t have ceramic) baking dish (about 3″ deep and 9-10″ square), place a little of the tomato sauce on the bottom, then a layer of the browned/breaded eggplant, then a layer of grated parmesan, then a layer of tomato sauce. Repeat this process again for a second (and third if you can fit it and have the eggplant) row and top with remaining tomato sauce and, finally, with sliced mozzarella.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 mins. Then uncover, raise the heat in the oven to 425 and cook a further 10 mins, or until browned and bubbly.
Slice into squares, top with a little shredded parmesan and serve with green salad and crusty bread.