New York City's Torrisi Italian Specialties uses only American ingredients in virtually all of its dishes. Its basil-rich eggplant parmesan, also delicious on a toasted roll, calls for Progresso Italian Style bread crumbs and SarVecchio parmesan from Wisconsin.
Slideshow: More Italian-American Classics
One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for frying
All-purpose flour, for dredging
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
One 2-pound eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
12 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 cup basil leaves
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a blender or food processor, puree the tomatoes with their juices and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the sauce with salt.
Put the flour, eggs and bread crumbs in 3 large, shallow bowls. Working with 1 slice at a time, dredge the eggplant in the flour; shake off any excess. Dip the slice in the egg, letting any excess drip back into the bowl, then coat with the bread crumbs.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1/8 inch of oil until shimmering. Line a rack with paper towels. Add one-third of the garlic and breaded eggplant to the hot oil. Cook over moderate heat, turning once and adjusting the heat as needed, until the eggplant slices are golden brown and tender, about 6 minutes. Transfer the fried eggplant to the paper towels to drain. Using a slotted spoon, discard the fried garlic. Repeat 2 more times with the remaining garlic and breaded eggplant, wiping out the skillet and adding more oil as needed.
Lightly oil a 10-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with a single layer of eggplant. Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce over the eggplant. Top with a few mozzarella slices and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of the parmesan. Tear one-third of the basil leaves over the cheese. Repeat with the remaining ingredients for a total of 4 layers, ending with a layer of eggplant and a thick layer of tomato sauce. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top.
Wrap the entire pan in foil and set it on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake the eggplant for about 1 hour, until heated through.
Increase the oven temperature to 400°. Remove the foil from the top of the eggplant and bake for about 10 minutes longer, until lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes before unmolding. Cut into wedges and serve.
Medium-bodied, cherry-rich Barbera d'Alba.
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