Eggplant Sandwiches

Course : Sandwiches
Serves: 6
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2 medium eggplants -- trimmed and cut into -- 1/4 inch slices (1 lb.)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small garlic cloves -- slightly flattened
2 cans plum tomatoes -- (35 oz. ea.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup basil leaves finely julienned
2 1/2 cups olive oil -- (+/-)
1 cup basil leaves chopped
1/2 cup roasted red peppers -- drained and chopped
10 fillets anchovies -- rinsed, dried and minced
2 tablespoons capers -- drained and chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
8 ounces mozzarella cheese -- thinly sliced
1/2 cup flour
3 large eggs -- lightly beaten
3 cups italian bread crumb -- soft
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Preparation / Directions:

Sprinkle the eggplant with the coarse salt. Place the slices in a colander set over a bowl or in the sink and let the eggplant drain for 1 hr. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. In a large skillet over med. heat, combine the 1 T. olive oil and garlic and cook til the garlic is very aromatic but not browned. Stir in the tomatoes, 1/4 t. of pepper, and 1/4 t. salt. Reduce heat to med. low and cook about 20 min. til liquid is reduced and the mixture is thickened. Remove the skillet from heat and let sauce cool to room temp. Remove and discard the garlic. Just before serving, reheat the sauce and stir in the julienned basil leaves. Preheat the oven to 375. Pat eggplant slices dry. Brush both sides of each slice with some olive oil. Place the eggplant slices in a single layer on 2 large baking sheets. Bake about 18 min. or til the slices are tender. Let the eggplant slices cool. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a small bowl, combine the chopped basil leaves, red peppers, anchovies, capers, and 1/2 t. black pepper. Stir until well mixed. Spoon some of the filling onto half of the eggplant slices and top with cheese, trimming cheese to fit. Place a plain eggplant slice on top of each filled slice, trying to keep the slices the same size. Press slices together firmly to set the sandwich. (You can refrigerate these at this point for later frying. Put your feet up and have a cup of coffee.) Place the flour in 1 pie plate and the eggs in another. In a med. bowl, stir together the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese til well mixed. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 1/2" olive oil to 375. Preheat the oven to 300. One at a time, dip the eggplant sandwiches in the flour until completely coated, shaking off the excess flour. Then dip sandwiches into the egg, letting excess drain off. Finally, dip sandwiches in bread crumb mixture until completely coated, shaking off the excess crumbs. Fry the sandwiches, a few at a time, in the hot olive oil, about 1 1/2 - 2 min. on each side or until the sandwiches are golden. Add more olive oil as needed. With tongs, transfer the cooded sandwiches to a jelly-roll pan lined with paper towels. Keep the cooked sandwiches warm in the oven while frying the remaining sandwiches. Serve the eggplant sandwiches warm or at room temp. with the Marinara Sauce.

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