- 60 min
- 3 hr
- 2 large eggplants, washed and dried
- 30 mL (2 tbsp) fine sea salt
- 500 mL (2 cups) Italian breadcrumbs
- 125 mL (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- 30 mL (2 tbsp) water
- Canola oil, for frying
- 1 L (4 cups) tomato puree, or Italian tomato passata
- 125 mL (1/2 cup) packed fresh basil leaves
- 340 g (12 oz) Saputo Mozzarellissima cheese, grated
- 125 mL (1/2 cup) grated Saputo Grana Padano cheese
- Line two baking sheets with paper towels. Slice the eggplants into 0.5 cm (1/4 inch) rounds and place side-by-side on the baking sheets. Sprinkle both sides of each eggplant slice with sea salt, then let rest for 1 hour.
- Rinse the eggplant slices under cold running water, then thoroughly pat dry using a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.
- In a large, shallow bowl, add the breadcrumbs. In a second bowl, add the flour, and in a third bowl, beat the eggs with the water until thoroughly combined. Set the three bowls side-by-side: flour first, then the eggs, then the breadcrumbs. Keep a clean baking sheet close by.
- One by one, dip the eggplant slices into the flour, shaking off the excess, then into the eggs, letting excess drip back into the bowl, then into the breadcrumbs, pressing each side so the eggplant is fully covered. Set the breaded eggplant slices side-by-side on baking sheets.
- Cover a baking sheet with 2 layers of paper towels and set by the stove or cooktop. Cover the bottom of a large sauté pan with 1 cm (1/2 inch) oil. Place over high heat and keep checking the oil using a thermometer until it reaches 175°C (350°F). Once the oil has reached the right temperature, add 3 or 4 breaded eggplant slices, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry 1 to 2 minutes per side, until dark golden brown. Transfer the fried eggplant slices to the paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain the excess oil (flip over to drain the second side as well). Lightly season with salt, then transfer to a cooling rack while you fry the remaining eggplant. Keep monitoring the oil throughout to make sure it remains at the right temperature (increase or lower the heat, if needed).
- In a saucepan, heat the tomato puree until bubbling, then lower the heat just to keep warm. Coarsely chop or tear the basil leaves.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Lightly oil a 23 x 33 cm (9 x 13 inch) baking pan.
- Scoop 250 mL (1 cup) tomato puree over the bottom of the baking pan. Cover with enough eggplant slices to cover the whole surface (slices can overlap slightly). Scatter with a third of the grated Saputo Mozzarellissima cheese, then with a third of the grated Saputo Grana Padano cheese. Spoon 250 mL (1 cup) tomato puree over the cheese, then sprinkle with half of the basil leaves. Repeat this process once, then cover with the remaining eggplant slices, tomato puree, and cheese. Gently press down with your hands to pack.
- Loosely cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and keep baking for 10 minutes. Broil at the end of baking to brown the cheese, if needed. Let rest for 20 minutes before serving.
A recipe developed by our chef collaborator @rob_gentile
get to know our chef collaborator
Rob Gentile @rob_gentile
Over the years, Chef Rob Gentile has made his mark on the Canadian culinary scene by developing a refined and professional approach to Italian-inspired cuisine. As the Chef of the critically acclaimed Buca restaurants, he has created a welcoming and creative culinary program with strong appreciation for seasonal ingredients and classic technique. His restaurants have garnered a notable following and earned critical acclaim as some of the best in the country.
With new restaurants on the horizon, including the highly anticipated second location of Bar Buca, Torontonians can hardly wait to see what Chef has to offer next.