(Parmigiana di Melanzane)
2 pounds (about 2 medium-sized) eggplant
4 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh bread crumbs, seasoned with 1/4 chopped fresh basil leaves and 1/4 cup pecorino
2 cups homemade or high-quality bottled tomato sauce
1 pound FRESH mozzarella balls, thinly sliced
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Wash and towel dry the eggplant. Slice the eggplant horizontally about 1/4-inch thick. Place the slices in a large colander, sprinkle with salt and set aside to rest about 30 minutes. Drain, rinse and dry on towels.
In a saute pan, heat the olive oil until just smoking. Press the drained eggplant pieces into the seasoned bread crumb mixture and saute until light golden brown on both sides. Repeat with all of the pieces.
On a cookie sheet lay out the 4 largest pieces of eggplant. Place 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce over each piece and place a thin slice of mozzarella on top of each. Sprinkle with Parmigiano and top each with the next smallest piece of eggplant, then sauce then mozzarella. Repeat the layering process until all the ingredients have been used, finishing again with the Parmigiano. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the top of each little stack is golden brown and bubbly, about 15 minutes. 4 servings, Adapted from Mario Batali