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- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 cups panko or plain unseasoned bread crumbs
- Kosher salt, as needed
- Black pepper, as needed
- 1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 2-inch florets
- ½ cup olive oil, for frying (more as needed)
- 5 cups Simple Tomato Sauce (see recipe)
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
- ½ pound fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place flour, eggs and panko into three wide, shallow bowls. Season each generously with salt and pepper. Dip a cauliflower piece first in flour, then eggs, then coat with panko. Repeat with remaining cauliflower.
- Fill a large skillet with 1/2-inch oil. Place over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, fry cauliflower in batches, turning halfway through, until golden brown. Transfer fried cauliflower pieces to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle one-third of the Parmesan over sauce. Scatter half cauliflower mixture over the Parmesan and top with half the mozzarella pieces. Top with half the remaining sauce, sprinkle with another third of the Parmesan and repeat layering, ending with a final layer of sauce and Parmesan.
- Transfer pan to oven and bake until cheese is golden and casserole is bubbling, about 40 minutes. Let cool a few minutes before serving.