Mamma Mia! Fresh Italian Eggplant Parmigiano!

READY IN: 1hr 25mins
SERVES: 9
UNITS: US

INGREDIENTS

Nutrition
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DIRECTIONS

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • ARRANGE 1/2 (ONE HALF) of the EGGPLANT over the SAUCE in dish, overlapping if necessary.
  • POUR 1/2 (HALF) of remaining sauce over EGGPLANT.
  • 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.
  • 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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