During my most recent grocery run I picked up a gorgeous looking eggplant and some fresh mozzarella balls. I didn't have a particular plan for either of these items, but I had a feeling that they might end up together. I browsed the internet and pretty quickly came upon my inspiration for this version of Eggplant Parmesan. I halved the original recipe and cut the eggplant in round slices rather than lengthwise strips. When stacking the eggplant I moved inward, offsetting the pieces, so I ended up with a 3 layer sort-of pyramid of eggplant (note in the picture below that the top layer is actually only 2 pieces of eggplant). This worked really well, but another option is to cut the eggplant into lengthwise strips like the original recipe so you can layer this more like lasagna.
(adapted from Simply Recipes)
1 large eggplant
1 14-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 lbs of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
1/2 cup grated high quality Parmesan cheese
1 cup fresh basil leaves
Cut eggplant into 1/4 inch round slices. Arrange one layer in the bottom of a large colander and sprinkle evenly with salt. Repeat with remaining eggplant, salting, until all eggplant is in the colander. Weigh down the slices with a couple of plates and let drain for 2 hours.
While the eggplant is draining, prepare tomato sauce. Combine tomatoes, garlic and 1/8 cup olive oil in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper to tasted and set aside.
When eggplant has drained, press down on it to remove excess water, wipe off the excess salt, and lay the slices out on paper towels to remove all the moisture. In a wide, shallow bowl, combine flour and breadcrumbs. Mix well. Pour beaten eggs into another wide shallow bowl. Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat, and generously coat with olive oil. When oil is shimmering, dredge the eggplant slices first in the flour mixture, then in the beaten egg. Working in batches, slide coated eggplant into hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Drain on paper towels.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In the bottom of a 9 inch glass pie dish, spread 3/4 cup of tomato sauce. Top with one third of the eggplant slices. Top eggplant with half of the mozzarella slices. Sprinkle with one third of the Parmesan and half of the basil leaves.
Make a second layer of eggplant slices moving slightly inward (making a sort of eggplant pyramid), topped by 1/2 cup of sauce, remaining mozzarella, half the remaining Parmesan, and all of the remaining basil. Add remaining eggplant, and top with the remaining tomato sauce and Parmesan.
Bake until cheese has melted and the top is slightly brown, about 30-40 minutes. Allow to rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving.