This is a labor of love, since the marinara is made from scratch, but can be made two days in advance. The original recipe was from Bon Appetit, then tweaked to reduce calories and lower carbs.
8 servings // 578 calories each, 38 net carbs for cow’s milk version
2 tablespoons 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 tablespoon tomato paste
¼ cup dry red wine
2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes
¼ cup torn basil leaves
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Eggplant and Cheeses
4 lbs. Italian eggplants (about 4) peeled, sliced lengthwise ½–¾ inch thick
1½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cups hard Parmesan Reggiano, grated on medium side of box grinder (or vegan “Parmesan”
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup finely chopped basil and parsley, plus basil leaves for serving
6 ounces low-moisture grass-fed mozzarella, grated (or Daiya “mozzarella” shreds)
8 ounces fresh grass-fed mozzarella, thinly sliced (or Daiya “mozzarella” shreds)
Preheat oven to 350°. Heat oil in a large heavy ovenproof pot over medium. Cook garlic, stirring often, until golden, about 4 minutes. Add onion, anchovies (if using), and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until slightly darkened, about 2 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil, and cook until almost completely evaporated, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, breaking up with your hands, and their juices; add basil and oregano and stir to combine. Swirl 1½ cups water into one tomato can, then the other, to rinse, and add to pot; season with salt. Transfer pot to oven; roast sauce, stirring halfway through, until thick and tomatoes are browned on top and around edges of pot, 2–2½ hours.
Let sauce cool slightly. Pass through the large holes of a food mill or process in a food processor until mostly smooth. Taste and season with salt.
Do Ahead: Sauce can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.
Eggplant and Assembly
Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly sprinkle eggplant slices with salt; place in a single layer on several layers of paper towels inside a rimmed baking sheet. Top with another layer of paper towels and more slices; repeat as needed. Top with a final layer of paper towels. Let eggplant sit until it has released excess liquid, 60—90 minutes. This step gives the eggplant a creamy texture when baked. Note: If you are eating a low-sodium diet, you can skip this step. The eggplant will be firmer and more fibrous.
After the eggplant slices have released their liquid, rinse and pat dry with paper towels to reduce the salt.
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Cook as many eggplant slices as will comfortably fit in pan, turning once, until deep golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels and immediately press with more paper towel to absorb oil. Working in batches, repeat with remaining slices, adding more oil and wiping out skillet as needed. Let cool. Taste and season with more salt if needed.
Toss chopped basil and parsley, low-moisture mozzarella, and ¾ cup Parmesan in a medium bowl.
Spread 1 cup sauce over the bottom of a 13×9″ baking pan; top with a layer of eggplant slices (trim as needed). Drizzle 1 cup sauce over and sprinkle with one-third grated mozzarella-basil mixture. Add another layer of eggplant, followed by 1 cup sauce and half of remaining grated mozzarella-basil mixture. Add a final layer of remaining eggplant slices, sauce, and cheese-basil mixture. Cover with foil and bake on a rimmed baking sheet for 45–60 minutes (until edges are bubbling).
Remove from oven and arrange fresh mozzarella slices over eggplant. Increase oven temperature to 425° and bake, uncovered, until cheese is bubbling and browned in spots, 15–20 minutes longer. Let rest 30 minutes. Top with basil leaves just before slicing.
Do Ahead: Eggplant Parmesan can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool; cover with foil and chill. Reheat in a 350° oven, uncovering halfway through, until bubbling gently at edges.
Serve with a large salad.