1½ cups canned crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
⅓ cup fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
1 cup panko (Japanese-style) bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ cup grated Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 2 ounces), divided
2 medium eggplants (about 1 pound)
1½ cups shredded regular or part-skim mozzarella (about 6 ounces)
1 cup sliced rapini (broccoli rabe)
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. In a blender or food processor, puree the tomatoes, basil, garlic, red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, and salt to taste; set aside.
In a small bowl, lightly the beat egg with the water. In a shallow container, combine the panko bread crumbs, oregano, and ¼ cup of the Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Slice the eggplants into 18 rounds ¼ inch thick. If needed, trim the rounds so the slices fit into the jumbo muffin cups. One at a time, dip the eggplant rounds in the egg mixture, then dredge in the panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere. Place the eggplant on the prepared baking sheet and bake until golden, about 30 minutes, flipping the slices and rotating the baking sheet after 15 minutes.
To assemble, place a slice of toasted eggplant in each of 6 jumbo muffin cups. Top each with about 1½ tablespoons of the tomato sauce and 1½ tablespoons of the mozzarella. Top with a sprinkle of the rapini. Place another eggplant slice on top and top with about 1½ tablespoons of the tomato sauce and 1½ tablespoons of the mozzarella, and evenly sprinkle the remaining rapini among the cups. Place the remaining eggplant slices on top and evenly top with the remaining tomato sauce, remaining mozzarella, and the remaining ¼ cup Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Bake until the cheese melts, about 10 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before unmolding. Serve garnished with fresh basil.
*Recipe and image courtesy registered dietician Matt Kadey, author of Muffin Tin Chef.*