What if eggplant parm was less like a layered casserole and more like an open-faced sandwich? You’d get this. To make the fresh breadcrumbs, just tear any bread into small pieces by hand. —Emma Laperruque
Get the tomato sauce going. Add the olive oil to a pot and set over medium heat. When it’s shimmery, add the tomatoes and their juices. Smush with a spoon to break up a bit. Add the salt and stir. Cook—somewhere between a simmer and boil, stirring every so often—for about 30 minutes, or until thick and jammy.
Preheat the oven to 400° F.
Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise—so, from stem to tush. Now, cut a diagonal crosshatch pattern in each: sort of like a duck breast. Figure 1/2-inch deep, 3/4-inch diamonds. Line a rimmed sheet tray with parchment or foil or a silicone mat. Place the eggplant haves on top, cut side facing up. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Rub both into the eggplant with your hands.
Roast for about 28 minutes or until tender. During the last couple minutes, add the breadcrumbs to the sheet pan to toast a little. Pull from the oven and raise the temperature to 475° F. Mix the mozzarella and parm in a small bowl to combine. Top each eggplant half with 6 tablespoons tomato sauce, spreading evenly with a spoon. Now top each with roughly a quarter of the cheese. Then each with half the breadcrumbs. Finish with the remaining cheese.
Bake until the cheese is bubbly and browned, about 4 minutes.
Let cool a little before serving. Serve with a fork and very sharp, steak-worthy knife.
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.