Baked Eggplant Parmesan

We were recently gifted three beautiful garden fresh eggplants from a friend's garden and I couldn't wait to treat us to Eggplant Parmesan.  It's a favorite of ours when we eat out and we were hoping for a tasty non-fried version.  This one did not disappoint!

The fresh eggplant were absolutely gorgeous and just ripe.  (Note:  The white squash below were not used in this recipe.)

To begin, I preheated our oven to 375 degrees.  I washed the eggplant thoroughly and cut unpeeled into 1/4" slices.  Next I dredged them in eggs (3 beaten eggs) and store bought Italian seasoned Panko bread crumbs (2 cups), using two shallow glass containers.  Dipped the slices first in egg then in the bread crumbs, coating well.

Placed the breaded eggplant slices on parchment paper (I sprayed lightly with cooking oil) on a baking sheet and baked until slightly brown.  In my oven, baking time was 10 minutes on each side.  You don't want them overly browned because they'll go back in the oven for more baking in the next step.

Remove from oven.

In a large casserole dish sprayed with cooking oil, I added a layer of pasta sauce and covered with shredded mozzarella.

Placed the baked eggplant slices in the dish in rows.

And top with more pasta sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, and fresh chopped basil.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until pasta sauce is hot and eggplant is heated through.  Below I had added remaining pasta sauce I had on hand after baking - heated it through in a saucepan and spooned it over the baked eggplant.

Remove and let sit for 5 minutes.  Serve plated with crusty garlic bread, a nice side salad and, if you like, a serving of pasta.

This dish was so tasty!  We love the combination of the slightly crunchy exterior of the eggplant with the tender center.  It was every bit as good - maybe even better - than the fried version.  We'll definitely make this one again.  Enjoy!

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