Eggplant Pesto & Parmigiana Bianca


  • 2-pound eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Italian breadcrumbs
  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1/2 cup capers, rinsed, drained, patted dry and chopped
  • 1/2 cup jarred, roasted red bell peppers, patted dry and chopped
  • 2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend (mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan, Fontina)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Italian breadcrumbs
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)


  1. Place the sliced eggplant on cooling racks set over baking sheets. Sprinkle salt on both sides of each slice, and allow the eggplant to sit for 20 minutes. Pat dry.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Prepare a breading station for the eggplant: place beaten eggs in one bowl and Italian breadcrumbs in another. Submerge the eggplant slices into the egg. Remove, allowing excess egg to drip off. Then coat each slice on both sides with breadcrumbs. Place back onto the cooling racks until ready to fry. Repeat with the remaining slices.
  4. Heat the Smithey cast-iron pan over medium heat. Pour in enough olive oil to reach 1/2 inch up the side of the pan. Fry the eggplant for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from the pan, and place back onto the cooling rack to drain of excess oil. Lightly season with salt. Repeat with the remaining slices.
  5. Ladle a small scoop of the cheese sauce onto the bottom of the pan. Top with a spoonful of pesto. Spread to coat the surface.
  6. Layer the breaded eggplant to cover the bottom. Top with evenly spaced sliced mozzarella cheese and spoonfuls of pesto. Pour 1 cup of white sauce on top. Sprinkle 1 cup of shredded cheese followed by 1/4 cup each of chopped capers and red peppers. Repeat with 1 more layer. Finish with breadcrumbs and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Bake on the center rack for 30 to 40 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden and the cheese is melted and bubbling. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.