Makes 4 portions
For the sauce:
1 ea. small yellow onion finely diced (about 1 cup)
4 ea. garlic cloves sliced thin
2 large cans whole peeled tomatoes
½ bunch basil (leaves only)
¼ cu grapeseed (or other high-quality vegetable oil)
Kosher salt & black pepper to taste
- Heat a large (6 qt) sauce pot over a medium flame with the vegetable oil.
- Add the garlic and sauté stirring constantly until the garlic is lightly browned.
- Add the onions and turn the flame down to low. Cook the onions until transparent but without giving any color, about 5 minutes.
- Add the basil leaves and continue to cook until the leaves are tender.
- Add all the tomatoes and juice from the cans.
- Add three fingers of salt and pepper.
- Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and using a whisk, agitate the sauce while it simmers with the whisk to break apart the tomatoes and keep the sauce from scorching on the bottom.
- Adjust the seasoning and set the sauce aside until ready to assemble the dish.
For the eggplant:
2 ea. medium size globe eggplant
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 whole eggs
3 cups dry white bread crumbs (panko)
2 cups vegetable oil (grapeseed oil recommended)
- Peel and slice the eggplant lengthwise into ¼ inch thick slices. 12 slices total are needed to build 4 portions with 3 layers of eggplant.
- Lightly salt each slice and place them side by side in a cookie sheet tray with paper towel below, and a second sheet of paper towel on top.
- Weigh down the slices with a second tray or other flat-bottomed container.
- Place in the refrigerator for one hour. This will give time to draw out the water in the eggplant.
- Remove the eggplant from the cooler.
- Arrange three large bowls or other container (for example a cake pan) and measure the flour, whisked eggs and bread crumb in separate bowls.
- Dredge each slice of eggplant first in flour, then egg, and last bread crumb. Make sure to evenly coat each slice while dredging in each ingredient.
- Arrange each breaded slice of eggplant on a clean and dry cookie sheet tray in a single layer. If necessary, place a sheet of parchment paper over the first layer if a second layer of eggplant is needed.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy bottom sauté pan or large cast iron fry pan over a medium-high flame.
- Carefully place the slices of eggplant into the hot oil, making sure to not overload the fry pan. Fry on each side for about 3 minutes or until golden brown and crisp on the outside.
- Remove each fried slice of eggplant from the pan and let cool on a dry clean paper towel to absorb any residual fry oil.
For the final preparation:
1# fresh mozzarella (best quality available) sliced ¼” thick slices
½ bunch basil (leaves only)
1 cup grated Parmesano Reggiano
- Using a large (9” X 13”) Pirex or other casserole pan, spoon enough tomato sauce to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Arrange 4 slices of eggplant in the casserole leaving about an inch between each slice.
- Cover each slice of eggplant with basil leaves then with slices of mozzarella, and finish with a generous sprinkle of grated parmesan.
- Place a second slice of eggplant over the layer of cheese, and continue with the second step of basil, mozzarella and parmesan.
- Continue building the layers of eggplant, basil and cheese finishing with the cheese as the top layer.
- Place the casserole in a pre-heated 350F oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the top layer is lightly browned.
- Serve immediately with some additional tomato sauce that has been brought back to a simmer, spooned over the top.