Italian Eggplant Parmesan Lasagne

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Eggplant Parmesan is my favorite Italian dish, but I don’t often make it since it’s labor intensive.  But now that I have a kitchen slave, ops I mean “sous chef,” yeah, that’s what I meant, it’s easier and a lot more fun to make.  Deniz and I will race to see who can prepare the eggplant slices faster.  And I’m proud to say that I always win… the “whose-area-looks-like-a-hurricane-hit-it” contest.  Here’s one of our favorite recipes, adapted from Tyler Florence’s recipe.  It has the eggplant-cheese-sauce layered like a lasagna.  If you like your eggplant crispy, you can prepare the cheese tomato sauce separately and then scoop it onto the eggplant when you’re ready to eat.  Either way, it tastes delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 eggs
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1½ lb medium eggplant, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 lb whole milk ricotta cheese
  • ¼ c fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 c Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  • 1 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded

Breading:

  • 2 c bread crumbs
  • ½ T garlic powder
  • ½ T dried Italian seasoning

Spices:

  • 1 t garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup black olives, pitted and chopped
  • ½ t hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained

Soup:

  • 1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes (recommended: San Marzano), crushed by hand, including juice
  • ½ Knorr Vegetarian Bullion cube
  • 1 c water
  • ⅛ cup fresh basil leaves, hand torn
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Combine the Spices ingredients in a medium bowl.  Combine the Soup ingredients in a large bowl.

Heat olive oil a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the Spices, and let that cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the Soup and continue cooking for 10 minutes. Set aside.

Combine the Breading ingredients in a large shallow bowl.  Beat 4 eggs in another shallow bowl. Put the flour in another shallow bowl. Season each of the three bowls generously with salt and pepper, stirring in the salt and pepper.  Arrange the eggplant, flour, beaten eggs, and bread crumb containers in that order on a table.

Heat a ¼ inch of cooking oil in a large saute pan. When the oil is hot, coat several eggplant slices first in the flour, then in the egg, and finally in the bread crumbs. Put the eggplant in the pan in a single layer and cook until tender and browned on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Cook the remaining eggplant this way, adding more olive oil to the pan as needed.

Stir together the ricotta and ½ cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Stir in the basil and remaining 2 eggs, and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Spray two 7 cup Pyrex baking dishes with butter spray. Have ready the eggplant, the ricotta mixture, the tomato sauce, the shredded mozzarella cheese and the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Spoon some of the tomato sauce over the bottom of the baking dish. Now add a layer of eggplant. Spread with a quarter of the ricotta mixture. Spoon another layer of tomato sauce over and sprinkle with a quarter of the mozzarella. Repeat with a layer of eggplant, another quarter of the ricotta, tomato sauce, and another quarter of the mozzarella. Sprinkle with half of the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Repeat with the second pyrex container and the rest of the ingredients.

Bake in the oven for about 1 hour, until golden and bubbling. Let stand for about 20 minutes before cutting.

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