Annabel Langbein visited Trapani, on the western coast of Sicily, when she was researching her 2001 cookbook Savour Italy. That's where she discovered the wonderful cooking at the agriturismo Duca Di Castelmonte. Sicilian cooks use a lot of crisp bread crumbs in their dishes, as a crunchy accent, inspiring Langbein to top slices of soft, baked eggplant and tomato with toasted crumbs mixed with anchovies, capers and lemon zest.
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Two 1-pound long, slender eggplants, sliced lengthwise 3/4 inch thick
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
4 cups crustless country bread in 1-inch pieces (4 ounces)
4 anchovy fillets, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped capers
1 garlic clove, minced
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese (about 1 cup)
4 large tomatoes, thinly sliced (about 2 pounds)
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 450°. Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and let stand until beads of water appear on the surface, about 15 minutes. Pat the eggplant slices dry and transfer them to a lightly oiled, large rimmed baking sheet. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and bake in the upper third of the oven for about 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown and tender. Using a spatula, loosen the eggplant slices from the sheet. Reduce the oven temperature to 400°.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the bread with the anchovies, parsley, capers, garlic, lemon zest and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the 1/4 cup of olive oil and process until coarse crumbs form.
Sprinkle the feta on the eggplant and top with the sliced tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Scatter the crumbs over the tomatoes and bake in the upper third of the oven for about 50 minutes, or until browned and crisp on top. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then serve.