Don't be daunted by the length--the descriptions are there to help you get it perfect! Here's the recipe:
2 lbs globe eggplant
1 Tbsp kosher salt
8 slices high-quality white sandwich bread (about 8 oz), each slice torn into quarters
2 oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (1 Cup)
Salt and ground black pepper
1 Cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
6 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 (14.5 oz) crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 med garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 C coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and ground black pepper
8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 Cups)
1 oz parmesan cheese, freshly grated (1/2 C)
10 fresh basil leaves, torn for garnish
- For the eggplant: toss half of the eggplant slices and 1 1/2 tsp of kosher salt in a large bowl until combined; transfer the salted portion to a large colander set over a bowl. Repeat with the remaining eggplant and remaining 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, placing the second batch on top of the first. Let stand until the eggplant releases about 2 Tbsp liquid (30-45 min). Spread the eggplant slices on a triple thickness of paper towels; cover with another triple thickness of paper towels. Press firmly on each slice to remove as much liquid as possible, then wipe off the excess salt.
- While the eggplant is draining, adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions, place a rimmed baking sheet on each rack, and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Pulse the bread in a food processor to fine, even crumbs, about 15 -1-second pulses (you should have about 4 cups). Transfer the crumbs to a pie plate and stir in the cheese, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper; set aside. Wipe out the bowl (do not wash) and set aside.
- Combine the flour and 1 tsp pepper in a large zipper-lock bag; shake to combine. Beat the eggs in a second pie plate. Place 8 to 10 eggplant slices in the bag with the flour; seal the bag and shake to coat the slices. Remove the slices, shaking off the excess flour; dip in the eggs, letting the excess run off; and coat evenly with the bread crumb mixture. Set the breaded slices on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining eggplant.
- Remove the preheated baking sheets from the oven; add 3 Tbsp oil to each sheet, tilting to coat evenly with the oil. Place half of the breaded eggplant slices on each sheet in a single layer; bake until the eggplant is well browned and crisp, about 30 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets after 10 min, and flipping the eggplant slices with a wide spatula after 20 min. Do not turn off the oven!
- For the Sauce: While the eggplant bakes, combine the canned crushed tomatoes. Heat the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and the garlic is light golden, about 3 minutes; stir in the processed tomatoes and the remaining can of diced tomatoes. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and reduced, about 15 minutes (you should have about 4 cups), stirring the basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- To Assemble: Spread 1 Cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9" baking dish. Layer in half of the eggplant slices, overlapping the slices to fit; distribute 1 more cup of the sauce over the eggplant; sprinkle with half of the mozzarella. Layer in the remaining eggplant and dot with 1 more cup of the sauce, leaving the majority of the eggplant exposed so it will remain crisp; sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and the remaining mozzarella. Bake until bubbling and the cheese is browned (13-15 minutes). Cool 10 minutes, scatter the basil over the top, and serve, passing the remaining tomato sauce separately (or serving it with angel hair pasta).