Cozy Up with Leonelli Taberna’s Eggplant Parmesan

Blue Apron is teaming up with chefs across the country to support Feeding America®. To participate, head over to our social media channels. Share our Facebook post or tag a friend on Instagram, and Blue Apron will donate an additional $5 to Feeding America, up to $50,000. Thanks to Jonathan Benno for sharing Leonelli Taberna’s incomparable Eggplant Parmesan recipe. 

eggplant parmesan in a dish
Perfection with cheese on top

For Chef Jonathan Benno, the kitchen is a second home. He’s spent over three decades working in some of New York’s most prestigious restaurants, including Gramercy Tavern and Per Se. In 2018 he opened Leonelli Taberna, Leonelli Focacceria, and Benno, and got to work establishing his own prestige kitchen, defined by the classic flavors of Rome.  

Like all New York restaurants, Leonelli Taberna is closed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, that doesn’t mean that Benno has stopped feeding and caring for his community. Benno and the team at Leonelli have partnered with meals4heros to deliver hundreds of meals to healthcare workers at local NYC hospitals. 

With this eggplant parmesan recipe, home cooks can also enjoy a rustic, delicious Leonelli meal while staying safe at home. 

Leonelli Taberna’s Eggplant Parmesan

For the eggplant 

  • 2 Medium Italian eggplants
  • 1 Ball fresh mozzarella cut into 1/4″ slices, or pre-grated
  • 1/2 Bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, rinsed and chopped coarsely
  • 1 Small piece Parmigiano-Reggiano, or pre-grated
  • All-purpose flour for dusting the eggplant slices
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Tomato Sauce (recipe to follow)
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

For the tomato sauce

  • 1 28 oz. Can San Marzano tomatoes, passed through the food mill or food processor
  • 1/2 Red onion, minced
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Basil sprig
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

For the eggplant 

1. Rinse the eggplant under cold running water. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4″ thick slices.

2. Lightly season the slices on both sides with kosher salt and lay in a single layer on the rack for 30 minutes to draw out some of the moisture.

3. Place a 12” sauté pan over medium-low heat and warm enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Use paper towels to pat the moisture off of the eggplant slices. Dredge each slice in all-purpose flour to evenly coat, shaking off the excess. In a few separate batches, gently sauté the slices in a single layer. When they are a light golden brown on each side, remove the eggplant slices from the pan and lay them out to cool on the rack in a single layer. Reserve until assembly.

For the tomato sauce

1. Preheat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 4 qt. sauce pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic, season with a pinch of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Cook until the onions are slightly translucent, stirring occasionally. Increase the heat to medium and add the remaining ingredients. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and reduce the heat to low. Let the tomato sauce cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, then remove and season to taste. If you like, add another pinch of salt or pepper and a drop of red wine vinegar. Reserve the sauce until assembly.

For assembly

1. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of an 8″x 8″ baking dish.

2. Lay down one even layer of eggplant followed by another thin layer of tomato sauce and enough Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped parsley to evenly cover the tomato sauce.

3. Add another layer of eggplant, tomato sauce, the mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped parsley. Follow suit with 2 more layers. The top layer should be tomato sauce, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and chopped parsley evenly distributed from edge to edge and corner to corner.

To finish 

1. Bake in a 350°F degree oven for 30 minutes. The top should take on a light golden color. When the dish is finished baking, remove it from the oven and let it stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before attempting to portion and serve. The longer it sits, the more stable it will be when portioned. Tip: the leftovers make an excellent sandwich.

eggplant parm sandwich
Who among us could resist?

Hungry for more? Check out some of our other chef partnerships, like from restaurants like Gage & Tollner and Bell’s.