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The mantra for this Eggplant Parmesan recipe should be: “Good things take time.” Trust us, your efforts will be rewarded the moment you pull this custardy eggplant slathered in tangy sauce and a crispy, cheesy top from the oven. It may take some time and a few steps, but it helps that you can break the work into chunks, and over a couple days if you prefer. The marinara sauce, rich with tomato, wine, tons of garlic, and anchovies (the secret to everything) can be made up to two days ahead; the flavors might even be better after a day’s worth of mingling. The casserole itself can be assembled and cooked two days before you want to dig in—just store it in the fridge and reheat. As for the fried eggplant and cheese, panko, and herb mixture? Those two components should be made the day you plan to layer it all together. Making them fresh will help keep the herbs vibrant and the crispy/custardy texture of the eggplant.

Some practical advice: If you’re striving to serve this Eggplant Parmesan as perfect blocks with some structural integrity (like the picture above), let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes after pulling it from the oven. Trying to slice into this dish while it’s still molten hot will create an oozy mess. Pair it with a simple, leafy salad and call it dinner.

Editor’s note: This recipe was originally published September 20, 2016.

Ingredients

12 servings

Marinara

¼

cup olive oil

1

head of garlic, cloves crushed

1

large red onion, chopped

3

oil-packed anchovy fillets (optional)

½

teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1

Tbsp. tomato paste

¼

cup dry white wine

2

28-oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes

¼

cup torn basil leaves

½

tsp. dried oregano

Kosher salt

Eggplant and Assembly

4

pounds Italian eggplants (about 4 medium), peeled, sliced lengthwise ½–¾ inch thick

Kosher salt

3

cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

tsp. dried oregano

1

tsp. freshly ground black pepper

cups finely grated Parmesan, divided

cups all-purpose flour

5

large eggs, beaten to blend

1⅓

cups olive oil

½

cup finely chopped basil and parsley, plus basil leaves for serving

6

ounces low-moisture mozzarella, grated (about 1⅓ cups)

8

ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

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