This twist on your classic eggplant parmesan is half the mess and all the flavor packed into individual eggplant boats. Roast the eggplant in the oven and skip the dredging and frying process for a tender eggplant that uses a lot less oil. The eggplant is tossed with a quick marinara sauce and lots of cheese and topped with panko breadcrumbs for a crispy bite that's sure to satisfy.
Halve each eggplant lengthwise. Leaving a 1/2-inch border, score the eggplant flesh into 1/2-inch pieces. Scoop out the eggplant cubes with a spoon to create a boat out of the shell. Place the eggplant cubes on a rimmed baking sheet, breaking the large pieces apart with your hands, and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper and set aside.
Brush the inside of the eggplant shells with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Place in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake the eggplant shells and cubes, rotating the baking sheet and dish halfway through, until tender, about 20 minutes for the cubes and 30 minutes for the shells.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until a deep brick red, about 2 minutes. Break up the tomatoes with your hands and add to the skillet along with their juices. Swirl 1/4 cup water around the tomato can and add the liquid to the sauce. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of the dried oregano and the basil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Toss together the panko, parsley, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano in a medium bowl. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss to combine. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to broil.
Combine the cooked eggplant cubes, 2 cups of the sauce, the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan, 1 cup of the mozzarella and 1/2 cup of the panko mixture in a large bowl. Spoon the eggplant mixture into the 4 shells and top with the remaining 1/3 cup mozzarella and the remaining panko mixture. Broil until the top is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, watching carefully. Serve the remaining sauce alongside.
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