Baked Eggplant Parmesan
1 medium-large eggplant (about 1 pound)
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups panko bread crumbs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried parsley
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 ½ cups tomato sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (fresh is better of course)
Heat oven to 425° F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and set it aside.
Slice the eggplant into ¼-½” thick slices – I probably had around 16-20 slices. Pour half of the olive oil, half of the salt, and half of the pepper into a large microwave-safe dish, and mix well to combine. Put half of the eggplant slices into the pie plate, rubbing each side of each slice well in the olive oil mixture. Cover the dish with a paper towel and microwave on high power for 2 minutes. Remove the cover and microwave on high power for 1 more minute. Carefully remove the cover and transfer the eggplant to a plate to cool (I put the plate in the freezer for a few minutes to speed up the process). Repeat the process with the remaining eggplant slices.
Put the flour onto a plate. Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat well. Put the panko, salt, basil, parsley, and oregano onto another plate and mix well to combine.
Dip an eggplant slice in the flour, making sure to coat both sides and the edges of the slice. Tap off any excess flour. Dip the floured slice in the beaten eggs and let any excess drip off. Put the coated slice on the seasoned panko and put a handful of the breadcrumbs on top of the slice. Press down on the slice to make sure the panko adheres. Roll the edges of the slice in the panko to fully coat it. Place the coated slice onto the foil-lined sheet. Repeat this process with all of the slices.
Bake the eggplant slices until the panko are browned on the edges and lightly golden on top, about 25 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 400° F. Let the eggplant slices cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then gently twist them to remove them from the foil.Start layering in an 8"x8" baking dish: about 1/4 cup of tomato sauce, then some eggplant slices, then some cheese. Repeat the layering (sauce, eggplant, cheese) until everything is gone, you should have about 4 layers. Bake at 400° F until the cheese is golden brown and the sauce is bubbly, about 15 minutes. I topped mine with some more herbs when it was done baking.