Olive oil (to drizzle over eggplant and 1 Tbsp for the sauce)
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, pressed or minced
24 oz good quality marinara sauce
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped, (optional, but nice)
1 lb shredded mozzarella (grated on the large holes)
Preheat Oven to 375˚F. Grease 2 baking sheets.
Set up 3 rimmed dishes in this order: In the first one, stir together ¾ cup flour, 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. In the second, beat 3 large eggs. In the third combine 1½ cups panko crumbs and ½ cup grated parmesan. Dip eggplant slices in flour, then beaten eggs, then in the panko/parm mixture.
Place breaded eggplant onto greased baking sheets and drizzle tops with olive oil or spray lightly with cooking spray. Bake at 375˚F for 32 min, flipping the eggplant rounds and rotating the pans halfway through (my baking sheets didn’t fit on one rack so I put them on separate racks in the top third and bottom third of the oven). Once done baking, remove from oven and reposition rack to the center of the oven.
Meanwhile, make the sauce: Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp olive oil. Once oil is hot, add garlic and stir 1 min until fragrant. Add marinara sauce and coarsely chopped basil. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.
To Assemble Eggplant Parmesan: Spread ¼ cup marinara sauce over the bottom of a 9×13 or 9×12 casserole dish. Add ½ eggplant slices, overlapping if needed to fit, then top with ½ marinara sauce and ½ mozzarella, Repeat with remaining eggplant slices, marinara and mozzarella. Bake uncovered at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly golden.