This varies from tradition in two ways - first, of course, it uses portobello mushrooms instead of eggplant; and second, the portobellos are baked rather than fried before assembly. It's a lot lighter that way, and just as tasty...
- 10-12 portobello mushrooms, stems removed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 lb Roma plum tomatoes
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 20 fresh basil leaves, coarsely torn (or 2 tsp dried basil)
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 4 cups panko bread crumbs
- 2 oz grated Parmesan (2/3 cup), divided
- 1 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded
1. Make sauce: Blanch, peel, chop, and coarsely puree tomatoes. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add garlic and sauté, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add tomato purée, basil, salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and red pepper flakes. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until aromatic and slightly thickened, about half an hour.
(Or: if you don’t feel like making the sauce, just acquire about 6 cups of bottled marinara sauce, and warm it gently)
2. Brush each Portobello sparingly with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Grill or broil for a half a minute each side. Cool. (You can skip this step, but it adds depth of flavor.)
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
4. Stir together the panko and 1/3 cup of the parmesan.
5. Dip each Portobello in egg, then in bread crumbs.
6. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes on each side.
7. Spread enough sauce to cover the bottom of a 9x13x2 inch baking dish. Nestle a layer of portobellos in the sauce. A little overlapping is ok. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Continue layering with with remaining portobellos, sauce, and mozzarella. Finish with a layer of sauce on top, then sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup of parmesan. Sprinkle basil on top.
8. Bake, uncovered, until cheese is melted and golden and sauce is bubbling, about 35 minutes.