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3 pounds eggplant - approx 3 (choose male eggplants. They have fewer seeds and less bitter. Look at the end of the eggplant and find the ones that have a circle and not an oval)
1 T. Water
2 cups Panko crumbs
2 oz. Grated Parmigiana cheese plus 3/4 cup to sprinkle between layers.
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups marinara sauce (jarred or homemade/recipe in notes)
1/2 pound buffalo-milk mozzarella (if the balls are small, get two)
Peel the eggplant and slice long ways in 1/4 inch slices.
Sprinkle each slice of eggplant with salt and place into a colander, overlapping and salting as you go. Place a heavy pan on top and allow the eggplant to sweat for 30 minutes.
Remove the eggplant from the colander and dry each slice.
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cover the bottom of two baking sheets with parchment paper and smear with olive oil.
Mix egg with water until combined.
Mix panko crumbs with Parmigiano cheese, salt and pepper.
Dredge the eggplant in the egg mixture, then coat in panko crumbs. Lay each slice onto cookie sheet and spray the top with olive oil.
Bake until browned on one side (about 15 minutes) and turn over and brown the other side.
In a 7x11 baking dish (I like ceramic but you can use glass too). Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom and layer the eggplant until it completely covers the bottom. Cut pieces to fit the pan if needed.
Sprinkle generously with grated parmigiano cheese. Add another layer of sauce and the eggplant. Continue to add layers until you are about two layers from the top, then add a single layer of sliced mozzarella. Finish with a couple more layers of eggplant, sauce and Parmesan. Finish the top with a sprinkle of Parmesan.
Cover tightly with foil and bake @375 for 35 minutes. Remove foil; top dish with remaining sliced mozzarella and bake for another 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese melts. Remove from oven. Top with basil leaves and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
2 -28 oz cans of San Marzano canned whole tomatoes
3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cover the bottom of saucepan with olive oil and heat. Add sliced garlic and let it sizzle (do not brown). Add the canned whole tomatoes and their juice and salt. Stir and chop coarsely using a potato masher. Lower and simmer sauce until ready to use.