2 (1 1/2 pound) eggplants, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups Tomatoe sauce
20 whole basil leaves
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Early in the day of serving, sprinkle the eggplant slices with the salt and lay the slices on top of one another in a large colander. Place a dish on top and weight it down (a large can of tomatoes works well). Drain for 20 minutes. Dry the eggplant slices with paper towels.
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Brush a nonstick baking sheet with the olive oil. Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with the olive oil, lay in a single layer on the prepared sheet and cook for 25 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spread 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce over the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Lay one-third of the eggplant slices over the tomato sauce. Spread 1/4 cup of tomato sauce over the eggplant slices. Lay 10 of the basil leaves evenly over the tomato sauce, sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper. Repeat these layers once more, beginning with the eggplant slices. For the final layer, top with the remaining one-third of the eggplant slices, the remaining 1/2 cup of tomato sauce, the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and the remaining 1/c cup of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. (the casserole can prepared ahead to this point and refrigerated, covered.) Bake the casserole, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes, until the sides are bubbling and the top is golden brown. (If the casserole was refrigerated before baking, cook for 45-50 minutes.) Let the casserole rest for 10 minutes before cutting into squares for serving.
Wine Suggestion - Merlot