2 medium eggplants, sliced into ¾ to 1-inch slices (I use 3 slices per stack)
2 large balls fresh mozzarella
1 C mozzarella, shredded
½ C Parmesan, grated
½ C Pesto (recipe below)
2 C marinara sauce (recipe below)
2 C fresh basil
1/4 C pine nuts
½ C Parmesan, shredded
¼ to ½ C extra virgin olive oil
1 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bunch of basil, whole
1 C red wine
2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 T olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 C panko seasoned with ½ C Parmesan, grated; 2 T parsley, chopped and lemon zest 1 C flour seasoned with salt and pepper
3-4 eggs, beaten
Olive oil for frying
1. Place the basil, pine nuts and Parmesan in a blender and pulse. Slowly drizzle in the oil until you get desired paste consistency. Place in small bowl and set aside.
For the Marinara Sauce
2. Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and cook one more minute. Add the wine and reduce to half.
3. Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. If the sauce thickens too much, add a little water. (Tip: double up this recipe and freeze for future uses).
Breading the Eggplant
4. Set out 3 pie tins and put the seasoned panko, the seasoned flour and the beaten eggs in the separate tins in order of flour, egg then panko. Cut the eggplant into slices, place in flour and dust both sides, place in egg and soak, then place in panko and set on platter. Heat olive oil in sauté pan until hot and fry the eggplant in batches until all are completed.
Assembling the Eggplant Stacks
5. Spoon 2-3 T of marinara sauce on bottom of pan and place one eggplant slice on top, spoon another 2 T on top of slice and place one slice of the fresh mozzarella down. Place a 2nd slice of eggplant down. Spoon pesto on this slice and top with the shredded mozzarella. Top with 3rd eggplant slice, spoon more marinara on top and slice of fresh mozzarella along with 2 T shredded mozzarella. Repeat this with the remaining eggplant stacks.
6. Use a thick wooden skewer stuck right in the middle to hold the eggplant stack in place while it bakes, as it can slip and slide. Bake at 350° F for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and top with a little more pesto. Garnish with sprig of basil and sprinkle grated Parmesan around the plate.