- 1 kg medium eggplants (about 3), cut crosswise into 1 cm thick rounds
- 15 ml salt
- 2 kg plum tomatoes
- 375 ml plus olive oil plus 45 ml for frying
- 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 20 fresh basil leaves, torn in half
- 3.75 ml black pepper
- 1.25 ml dried hot red pepper flakes
- 125 g all-purpose flour
- 5 large eggs
- 250 ml panko crumbs
- 75 g finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 500 g chilled fresh mozzarella (not unsalted), thinly sliced
- Toss eggplant with 2 teaspoons salt in a colander set over a bowl, then let drain 30 minutes.
- While eggplant drains, cut an X in bottom of each tomato with a sharp paring knife and blanch tomatoes together in a 4 liter pot of boiling water for 1 minute.
- Transfer tomatoes with a slotted spoon to a cutting board and, when cool enough to handle, peel off skin, beginning from scored end, with paring knife.
- Coarsely chop tomatoes, then coarsely purée in batches in a blender.
- Heat 45 ml oil in a 4 liter heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking
- Add garlic and sauté, stirring, until golden, about 30 seconds.
- Add tomato purée, basil, 5 ml salt, 2.5 ml pepper and red pepper flakes.
- Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 185°C.
- Stir together flour, remaining 1.25 ml salt, and remaining 1.25 ml pepper in a shallow bowl.
- Lightly beat eggs in a second shallow bowl, then stir together panko and half the Parmigiano-Reggiano in a third shallow bowl.
- Working with 1 slice at a time: dredge eggplant in flour, shaking off excess, then dip in egg, letting excess drip off, and dredge in panko until evenly coated. Transfer eggplant to sheets of wax paper, arranging slices in 1 layer.
- Heat remaining 375 ml oil in a deep 30 cm nonstick frying pan over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.
- Fry eggplant 4 slices at a time, turning over once, until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes per batch. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain.
- Spread 250 ml tomato sauce in bottom of a rectangular 4 liter baking dish.
- Arrange about one third of eggplant slices in 1 layer over sauce, overlapping slightly if necessary. Cover eggplant with about one third of remaining sauce and one third of mozzarella. Continue layering with remaining eggplant, sauce, and mozzarella.
- Sprinkle top with remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano.
- Bake, uncovered, until cheese is melted and golden and sauce is bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes.
Best served: Hot
If you’re in a hurry, good tomato pasta sauce can be used instead of making it on spec
- Storage: Refrigerator for up to 7 days
- Freezer: Unknown
- Reheat: Microwave or oven