First, we use straight-up eggplant halves, which roast up to be creamy and rich. Then we spoon a layer of sauce over the eggplant's flesh and top it with a blanket of fresh mozzarella. Finally, we sprinkle breadcrumbs over the whole production, and bake it until the mozzarella is bubbling and the breadcrumbs are crispy and golden-brown. Trust us, you won't miss those extra layers of fried breading (and neither will your waistband).
EGGPLANT PARMESAN WITH FRESH MOZZARELLA
Removing all but a strip of the eggplant's skin lets the flesh meld with the sauce without falling apart
Recipe by Dawn Perry
¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
10 garlic cloves, 2 finely chopped, 8 whole
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 medium or 8 small eggplants (about 4 lb.), halved lengthwise
8 sprigs oregano
1¼ cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs
12 oz. fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces
3 oz. Parmesan, finely grated (about ¾ cup)
See more: Reduced Guilt Fried Chicken
Heat ¼ cup oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 6-8 minutes. Add chopped garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until beginning to darken, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you add them; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, mashing tomatoes occasionally, until slightly thickened, 15-20 minutes. Set tomato sauce aside.
Preheat oven to 400°. Using a vegetable peeler, remove skin from rounded side of each eggplant half, leaving a 1" strip of skin around the cut edges. Divide eggplants, oregano sprigs, whole garlic cloves, and ½ cup oil between 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Turn eggplants to coat with oil; season with salt and pepper and place cut side down. Cover baking sheets tightly with foil and bake until eggplants are very soft, 40-45 minutes.
Toss breadcrumbs and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a medium bowl. Transfer eggplants, oregano, and garlic to 2 large shallow baking dishes, placing eggplants cut side up. Top eggplants with tomato sauce and mozzarella, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Bake until mozzarella is bubbling and breadcrumbs are golden, 25-30 minutes.
DO AHEAD: Tomato sauce can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Eggplants can be cooked 1 day ahead. Keep covered; chill. Entire dish can be assembled 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.