Mamma Mia! Fresh Italian Eggplant Parmigiano!

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READY IN: 1hr 25mins
Recipe by The Spice Guru

My recipe for Eggplant Parmigiano casserole is a lot of work, but so worth it.

Ingredients Nutrition

Directions

  1. PREP vegetables and herbs needed for the SAUTE (1 medium chopped onion, 8 ounces thinly sliced fresh mushrooms, 2/3 cup minced fresh basil leaves (reserving 1 tablespoon to refresh flavor later), 2-3 tablespoons minced fresh garlic, 3 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley, 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano leaves, and 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves); SAUTE in a large saucepan or pot in 1 tablespoon olive oil, between medium-low and medium heat until softened, about 7 minutes.
  2. BRING 4 quarts unsalted water to boiling; CAREFULLY lower Roma tomatoes needed for recipe on a large spoon into boiling water; BLANCH until skins start to crack; REMOVE tomatoes and place into a colander; RINSE tomatoes under running cold water to remove skins; PUREE enough tomatoes to yield 3 1/4 cups; DICE remaining tomatoes to yield 3 1/4 cups; ADD both pureed and diced tomatoes to the saute mixture, along with 1/4 cup olive oil, 2-3 teaspoons ground fennel, 1/4 cup dry red wine, 2 teaspoons fine sea salt (if using fresh tomatoes), 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes; STIR in enough sugar or light corn syrup into SAUCE to balance acidity; RAISE HEAT to HIGH, stirring constantly until mixture begins to boil; REDUCE heat to MEDIUM-LOW, then SIMMER the sauce uncovered for 1 hour or slightly longer, stirring occasionally; REMOVE the SAUCE from heat; STIR in 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh basil leaves (to refresh flavor); SEASON to taste with fine sea salt if necessary.
  3. PREPARE the BREADCRUMBS in a large sealable container or Ziplock bag, add 2 cups panko, 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1 1/4 teaspoons garlic salt, 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper and 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg; seal and shake well to combine; set aside; PREHEAT oven to 375 F degrees.
  4. CUT eggplants into 1/8 - 1/4 inch rounds; BRUSH eggplant evenly on both sides with the BASTE mixture (1/2 cup olive oil with 1-3 freshly mashed garlic cloves); SHAKE a few basted eggplant rounds at a time in sealed container or Ziploc bag with BREADCRUMBS until very well coated; arrange in TWO greased 13 x 9 inch baking dishes; RESERVE enough of the BREADCRUMBS for the GARNISH of eggplant parmigiano later before last 15 minutes of baking.
  5. BAKE both baking dishes of eggplant for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned; carefully slide out oven tray(s) from oven using oven mitts; REDUCE oven temperature to 350 F degrees; TURN eggplant over using tongs or spatula; CONTINUE baking at 350 F for about 10 additional minutes or until lightly browned; REMOVE from oven; LEAVE oven ON.
  6. LADLE 1/3 of the SAUCE into the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish or casserole dish; SPRINKLE 1 tablespoon of the freshly grated parmesan cheese over the sauce; (you can use the same dish you used to bake eggplant in).
  7. ARRANGE 1/2 (ONE HALF) of the EGGPLANT over the SAUCE in dish, overlapping if necessary.
  8. POUR 1/2 (HALF) of remaining sauce over EGGPLANT.
  9. SPRINKLE the SAUCE with 1 tablespoon freshly grated PARMESAN cheese, followed by 8 ounces (ONE HALF POUND) grated part-skim MOZZARELLA cheese; REPEAT layers with remaining EGGPLANT, remaining SAUCE, and remaining MOZZARELLA cheese; COVER casserole with aluminum foil or casserole lid.
  10. BAKE in preheated 350 F degree oven for 30 minutes, then carefully slide out oven tray from oven using oven mitts; REMOVE cover from eggplant parmigiano carefully; then SPRINKLE the GARNISH (1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese, 2 teaspoons seasoned Italian breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh Italian parsley); CONTINUE to BAKE for 15 additional minutes; REMOVE from oven and allow to cool and set for 5-10 minutes, then SLICE (using a serrated knife) and SERVE (with your favorite side dishes and bread); SERVE and say, "MAMMA MIA!"!

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