Inside-Out Eggplant Parmigiana
For tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 (14-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped basil
For eggplant stacks
- 2 (1-lb) eggplants
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus additional for drizzling
- 3/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 garlic cloves, minced, divided
- 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
- 1/2 lb arugula, coarse stems discarded, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup packed basil leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella cut into 4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices
Make tomato sauce:
- Heat oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes.
- Meanwhile, blend tomatoes with juice in a blender until almost smooth. Add to onion mixture in saucepan with water, sugar, and 1/4 tsp salt and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in basil and keep warm, covered.
- Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in lowest position.
- Cut 12 (1/3-inch-thick) rounds from widest portion of eggplants. Brush both sides with 2 Tbsp oil and season with 1/2 tsp salt (total). Bake on an oiled baking sheet, turning once, until golden and tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a plate and keep warm, covered. Leave oven on.
Make egg patties and sauté arugula:
- Stir together bread crumbs, parmesan, parsley, half of garlic, and 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper, then stir in eggs and water.
- Heat 3 Tbsp oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Drop 4 rounded 1/3 cups of egg mixture into skillet and cook, turning once, until patties are golden brown and puffed, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
- Add remaining Tbsp oil to skillet and cook remaining garlic with red-pepper flakes, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 30 seconds. Add arugula and basil and stir until just wilted, then stir in 1/8 tsp salt.
- Arrange 4 egg patties about 3 inches apart on a baking sheet. Top each with 2 Tbsp tomato sauce, 1 slice mozzarella, 1 eggplant slice, 2 more Tbsp tomato sauce, another eggplant slice, arugula mixture, and remaining eggplant. Bake until cheese melts, 5 to 10 minutes. Drizzle with additional oil and serve remaining sauce on the side.