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Baked Eggplant Parmesan

To reduce the bitterness of eggplant, lightly sprinkle the slices with salt and let drain in a colander set over a plate for 30 minutes. Pat with paper towels to remove the salt and bitter juices. Do not rinse under running water, which the eggplant will absorb.

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbs. water
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 Tbs. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 small eggplants, about 1 1/2 lb. total, cut into 8 slices
  • 2 cups spicy tomato sauce, homemade (see related recipe at left) or purchased
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Prepare the eggplant
Preheat an oven to 400°F. Place the egg mixture in a wide, shallow dish. Place the bread crumbs in another dish and stir in the oregano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and pepper.

In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the oil. Working with 4 eggplant slices at a time, dip a slice in the egg mixture, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Coat both sides with the bread crumbs and cook, turning once, until browned, about 6 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

Assemble the dish
Lightly oil a 9-by-12-inch baking dish with the remaining oil. Spoon one-third of the sauce over the bottom, then arrange 4 eggplant slices in a single layer in the dish. Spoon one-third of the sauce onto the slices and sprinkle with half of the mozzarella. Top with the remaining eggplant slices and cover with the remaining sauce and mozzarella.

Bake the eggplant
Bake until the eggplant is tender and the cheese is lightly browned and melted, about 15 minutes. Using a wide spatula, divide among dinner plates and serve. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Vegetarian, by Dana Jacobi (Oxmoor House, 2007).