Eggplant Parmigiana

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People who say they don’t like eggplant have never had them fixed properly. Unless you have small, very white eggplant, you must salt and press them to leech out the bitter juices. Make your own marinara for this Parmigiana, or buy a jar. Keep it vegetarian, or add a layer of sautéed ground beef, veal, or sausage, if you like. However you make it, your family will adore this hearty, heart-warming supper. SAM

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 (15-ounce) carton ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 (14-ounce) jar marinara sauce (1 3/4 cups)
6 ounces mozzarella, grated

Layer the eggplant with salt in a large colander set in the sink or in a large bowl. Place a plate and a 5-pound weight on top. Let drip for at least 1 hour. Remove the eggplant and blot dry with paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 2-quart casserole. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until hazy. Dip the eggplant in the egg, dredge in bread crumbs, and sauté on both sides until golden. Drain on paper towels and layer in the prepared casserole. Spread the ricotta cheese over the eggplant and sprinkle with Italian seasoning and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Top with marinara sauce and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes. Spread mozzarella cheese over the top and bake for 10 minutes more or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Makes 4 servings.

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