- Eggplant, 2 lbs
- 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- salt & freshly ground pepper
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups parmesan
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 cups low moisture shredded mozzarella
- Rao's marinara sauce
- 1 cup basil, chopped
- At least 1 hour before making the eggplant parmesan: Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch thick rounds. Salt on both sides and then sandwich between layer of paper towels, stacking if necessary, with ample paper towels between layers. Top with more paper towels and a baking sheet. Place a heavy pan on top of the baking sheet to weight it down and squeeze all the moisture out of the eggplant rounds.
- After at least an hour and when ready to fry the eggplant: Place 1 1/2 cups of flour in another shallow bowl. In a separate bowl, beat 3 eggs until frothy, and in the third bowl; mix 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1 1/2 cups panko, 1 tsp freshly ground pepper.
- Cover each slice of dried out eggplant in flour, then coat in egg, and dredge in breadcrumbs. Lay on the drying sheet or clean paper towel when they are finished.
- Pre- Heat oven to 350˚ F. Heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a cast iron pan over medium high heat. Set a stack of paper towels to the side of the stove, so they are easily accessible when done frying the eggplant rounds. When the oil sizzles when water is spritzed on it, place the breaded eggplant slices in, frying until golden brown on one side, then flipping to brown the other. It should take about 5 minutes. Do not crowd the pan, and fry in batches until all rounds are done. If needed, wipe the pan clean and add fresh oil to prevent burning pieces of breadcrumbs that came off during the frying process.
- In a baking dish, place 1 cup of marinara sauce, a layer of eggplant, and top with 1/3 of the mozzarella, parmesan, and torn basil. Repeat layers, always starting with sauce, then eggplant and topping with cheese. Tent with aluminum foil to create a lid and bake in oven for 45 minutes.
- Remove aluminum foil lid, turn oven to a high broil and broil until top cheese is a deep golden brown and bubbling (about 5 minutes). Immediately remove from oven and let sit at least 15- 30 minutes before serving.