This is a recipe I've been making for over a decade (Ahhh!). I used to make it for my mom when I was growing up. The eggplant is crispy, and salty, while the homemade sauce is a little sweet, and has lots of basil and garlic. Yumm.
Ok. So. This is time-consuming but totally totally worth it.
First you have to sweat the eggplant. Slice the eggplant into thin slices and layer the slices in a bowl after salting them generously but carefully. Try to make the salt evenly distributed. After they're salted, cover and set aside.
While the eggplant is sweating, work on the sauce.
Add some olive oil to the pot and heat. Then add in the chopped onion and garlic and a dash of salt. Cook until the onions soften a bit.
Chop some of the basil leaves and add into the onion mixture. Stir, then add in the chopped fresh tomatoes, not the canned. Cook down until the tomatoes soften. Add salt to taste.
Finally, add in the San Marzano tomatoes. Mix in sugar to taste. You want the sauce a bit on the sweet side, but not actually fully sweet. Just somewhere in between.
Simmer for about 30 minutes.
While the eggplant is still sweating/your sauce is cooking down, prep the cheese. Slice the mozzarella ball into half then into thin slices, should be about 12 or so total.
Get out a bowl of all purpose flour for dredging.
Check your eggplant. there should be a pool of water at the bottom of the bowl, and the slices should have softened. You can choose to either pat the eggplant dry or not, I haven't found it to make a big difference other than that it's easier to coat it in flour before frying.
Get out your favorite large frying pan, fill that boy up with olive oil, and turn the heat up to medium high.
Dredge each slice of eggplant in flour and fry until golden. If they get a little darker, it's ok. Set each fried slice aside. I like to put them on paper towels to get some of the extra oil out.
Once they're done, it's time to actually build the dish.
Layer the slices, sauce and cheeses in a baking pan. I usually do the eggplant, sauce, parmesan, then mozzarella. You should be able to do two layers. On the top layer, add in single basil leaves between the basil slices.
Bake at 350 for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and browned.