It is quite time consuming as there are many different steps. Here the tomato sauce is made from scratch, with fresh tomatoes. If you want to save a little time, and a good idea in the winter when fresh tomatoes are unaffordable, you can make a sauce with canned diced tomatoes.
I use Panko bread crumbs, but again you can substitute with regular breadcrumbs, or Italian seasoned breadcrumbs.
5 medium size eggplants
3 Tbsp salt
20 plum tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn in half
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or Piment d'Espelette
Salt and pepper
1 cup all purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs
5 large eggs
1 lb Fresh Mozzarella, thinly sliced
1 cup freshy grated Parmesan
First slice the eggplants crosswise, into 1/3-inch thick slices. Sprinkle with salt and place in a colander. Set aside for about 45 minutes. The salt will drain water out of the eggplants.
While they drain, boil water in a large pan. Cut an X at the bottom of the tomatoes and blanch them for up to a minute. Remove from the water and let cool on a board. Peel the tomatoes, place in food processor and puree.
Tranfer to a large bowl. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the garlic and saute until golden, not brown! Add the tomato puree, the basil, the red pepper, salt and pepper. Cook for about 30 minutes until it has slightly reduced. Transfer to a bowl.
Prepare 3 plates with:
1- the flour, salt and pepper
2- the eggs, well beaten
3- the Panko breadcrumbs with about 1/2 cup Parmesan
Dip the eggplant slices in the flour, then the eggs and finally in the breadcrumbs mixture. Place each coated slice on parchment paper.
In a large saute pan (you can reuse the tomato one), heat some olive oil. Fry the eggplant slices in several batches, adding fresh oil before each new batch. Cook each side until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes per side.
Spread about a cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Place the eggplant slices on the sauce, then cover them with sauce. Place the mozzarella on top, sprinkle with Parmesan. Repeat until all the eggplant is used, finishing with the mozzarella. Sprinkle again with the remaining Parmesan.
Bake at 375F, uncovered for about 45 minutes. The sauce should be bubbling and the mozzarella melted and golden.