I have been intrigued by the idea of creating this dish for some time. Something like two years now. Why it’s taken me this long to make it, I can’t tell you. Not that I won’t tell you, or refuse to tell you. Just can’t tell you. It was at the top of the list last summer during our gardening season. Perhaps I simply grew tired of eggplant before I got around to cooking it up. The arrival of another Fiesta Friday pushed me to get the job done! I’m heading over to the Novice Gardener’s now… join us!I’ve seen many different variations on this idea out there. I narrowed down the idea to two different preparation methods and combined them to create the version you see here. Essentially, this is an eggplant sandwich. This can easily be a Meatless Monday, Lenten Friday or a vegetarian option. One of the recipes I sourced used mortadella in the stacks, which I too implemented per Glenn’s wishes. For a meatless option, simply omit the mortadella.
An added bonus for this dish is you can have dinner on the table in about 30 minutes – perfect for those busy days. It only took me about 15 minutes to slice, dip, bread and brown the eggplant. Another quick 15 minutes in the oven completed the job. You can even prepare your own homemade tomato sauce in that time! Serve with a simple mixed green salad and your meal is complete.
1 large eggplant, sliced in ¼-inch rounds
¼ cup milk
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
¼ pound mortadella, sliced thin
8 ounces fresh mozzarella
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil [for browning eggplant]
Tomato Sauce/Marinara, approximately 3 cups [homemade or purchased]
Additional grated Parmesan and chopped basil for serving
Note: for the tomato sauce I use a 1 quart jar of my canned tomatoes [a purchased 28 ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes works too] that I puree in the blender. I add that to a skillet of chopped onion and garlic softened in olive oil. I then season with salt, pepper, a ¼ cup or so of red wine, a pinch of sugar, a sprinkling of red pepper flakes and chopped herbs. Cook it down by about ½ over a low simmer. Add tomato paste [½ Tablespoon at a time] if too thin.
In a medium size bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk. Add the eggplant slices, turning to coat well in the mixture. Set aside, allowing to stand 5 minutes or so.
In a shallow bowl or pie plate, combine the bread crumbs, grated Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning. Toss to combine.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat [1-2 Tablespoons, enough to coat bottom of skillet]. Remove eggplant rounds one at a time from the egg mixture and coat with the breadcrumb mixture; gently pressing down on eggplant to ensure the crumbs are adhering.
Brown crumb coated eggplant in the hot oil, about 2-3 minutes per side. Add more olive oil, a tablespoon at a time if needed to complete browning of all rounds. Set aside on baking sheet.
Match up 2 rounds, based on size, to create “stacks”. My eggplant yielded 16 slices, or 8 stacks. Place thin slice of mozzarella on one eggplant slice from each pair, top with mortadella if using, then another slice of mozzarella, then other slice of eggplant.
Bake in preheated oven 15-20 minutes, until cheese melts and stack is heated through. Serve with tomato sauce, freshly grated Parmesan and fresh chopped basil.