We developed this recipe using several traditional ones for this famous Italian specialty.
2 medium-large globe eggplants, trimmed
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 28-oz. can peeled whole plum tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
Leaves from 1 sprig basil
1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
1. Cut eggplants lengthwise into slices about 1/2" thick. Place slices in a colander set over a bowl, salt generously on both sides, and set aside to drain for 1 hour.
2. Meanwhile, heat 3 tbsp. of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until golden, 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes and juice from the can and season to taste with salt and pepper. Increase heat to high and boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, breaking up tomatoes with back of spoon and stirring often, until sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Chop 3-4 of the basil leaves, add to sauce, and simmer for 15 minutes more. Set sauce aside.
3. Preheat oven to 375º. Brush excess salt off eggplant, pat each slice dry with paper towels, and set aside. Heat the remaining oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry eggplant, turning once, until golden and soft, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer eggplant with a slotted metal spatula to a wire rack to drain. Season to taste with pepper.
4. Spread a large spoonfull of sauce over bottom of each of two 8: baking dishes. Cover sauce with a layer of eggplant slices, scatter some of the mozerella over eggplant, then spread another large spoonful of sauce over eggplant and mozerella. Repeat layers with the remaining eggplant slices, mozerella and sauce, ending with a layer of suace. Scatter half the remaining basil leaves over each dish with half the parmigiano. Bake until sauce is bubbling hot and cheese is melted and golden on top, 25-30 minutes.