When I make this I cut the eggplant into rounds and bake it, instead of breading and frying it. This has two upsides: it is MUCH easier and cleaner, and it's healthier. No gluten from the breading, no worrying about oxidized frying oil. I'm sure I originally did it this way to make it lower in fat, and while that isn't really my focus anymore, baking the eggplant is still a good idea. This recipe takes a little time, but it is super easy.
1 large eggplant
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 C shredded mozzarella
2TBS shredded parmesan
1 clove garlic, minced
1 TBS each chopped thyme and chopped oregano
Olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
First preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Then slice the eggplant into rounds. Use a sharp knife for this, it makes a world of difference. I think one of the keys to really good eggplant parm is uniformly thin eggplant slices. Lay the slices on a cookie sheet and drizzle both sides with olive oil and season both sides with salt and pepper. This is basically the same way I cooked the eggplant when making enchiladas.
While the eggplant is baking make the sauce. Saute the garlic in some olive oil over medium heat. Add the red pepper flakes (to taste) and let that hang out for a minute or two. Next dump the tomatoes into the pot, season with salt, pepper, and herbs, and turn it down to medium low to simmer while the eggplant is cooking. This is basically the same simple sauce I used for my sausage meatballs.
After about 20 minutes in the oven the eggplant should be done. It should look nice and brown before you take it out. The next step is to assemble everything in a casserole dish. I prefer to use a smaller one so I can get more layers in.
First put a thin coating of sauce on the bottom so nothing sticks, then add a layer of the eggplant rounds. Put more sauce on top of the eggplant, followed with a layer of mozzarella. The key to this is to make thin layers, if you put too much sauce or mozzarella the whole thing will come out too watery. Add another layer of eggplant, then sauce, then mozzarella until you run out of eggplant. Add the parmesan to the last layer of mozzarella. Put the whole thing back in the 400 degree oven, uncovered for about 45 minutes. Do not take it out before all the cheese on top is dark brown and bubbly. You could eat it earlier, but trust me, the crust is worth the wait. Also, the longer baking time makes the eggplant skin more tender. It can be really bitter and tough to cut, but if you cook it long enough it is soft and delicious. Here is what mine looked like:
Next, slice and serve! I cut this one into 6 squares. My husband and I both ate two squares for dinner and I had the leftover two for lunch the next day. This is really, really good leftover.