I like good food, but I am kind of a lazy cook. I prefer things that taste good, but didn't take me a long time to make. Usually when I find something that is labor intensive, even if it's good, I won't make it again because the final product wasn't SO good that it justifies how long it took to make.
This is different. This is totally worth it.
1 lb. eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Peel and slice the eggplant. I prefer to peel mine, but you don't have to. The skin is edible, it's just a little tough for my taste. Place in layers in a colander and sprinkle each layer with salt. Place over an empty bowl. Let stand for 30-45 minutes until the eggplant has released at least 1 tablespoon liquid. The eggplant will change color, but it's fine. Rinse the slices, lay on a paper towel or clean kitchen towel. Press firmly to release as much liquid as possible. This process prevents the eggplant from becoming mushy.
After about 20 minutes, place a cookie sheet in the oven and heat to 425.
Meanwhile mix together:
1 cup bread crumbs (I use Italian flavor, but you don't have to)
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated fresh or in the can, doesn't matter)
pinch of salt
Beat three large eggs and put in a bowl. Then combine 3/4 cup flour with 1/4 tsp. pepper in a large zip-loc bag. Add the drained and dried eggplant and shake. Then dip the eggplant slices in the egg and
bread crumb mixture. Set aside.
Remove the cookie sheet. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to the sheet and tilt to coat. Place the eggplant slices on the cookie sheet and place back in the oven for 30 minutes (turning once at 20 minutes).
While the slices are baking, you make the sauce.
2 cans diced tomatoes (or 30 oz. fresh chopped tomatoes)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste (if you use fresh tomatoes, you'll need more salt)
Blend half the tomatoes until smooth. Add pepper, garlic, onion and olive oil to a skillet and saute over medium heat 3-5 minutes. Then add the pureed tomatoes and chopped tomatoes and increase heat to bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add chopped basil and salt and pepper.
Spray a 2 qt. casserole dish, or lasagne pan with Pam. Pour in some of the prepared sauce. Add eggplant in layers, putting sauce and mozzarella cheese between each. You should have two layers, with a few slices making a third. Top with remaining sauce and more cheese. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted and dish is bubbling.