- 3 Italian eggplants (about 1 1/4 pounds total)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for salting the eggplant
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the gratin dishes
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- One 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 sprigs fresh basil, plus 6 large leaves
- All-purpose flour, for dredging
- 1 cup freshly grated Grana Padano
- 6 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferable Sicilian on the branch
With a vegetable peeler, peel strips lengthwise down the eggplant, leaving alternate stripes of peel. Cut off stems, and slice eggplant lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices. Line a large colander with the eggplant, overlapping if necessary; salt liberally on both sides, and let drain in the sink for 30 minutes. Rinse, drain, and dry the eggplant well.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, to a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic. Let the garlic sizzle until golden, about 1 minute, then pour in the tomatoes. Rinse the tomato can with 1 cup water, and add that as well. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and the crushed red pepper flakes. Stick the basil sprigs in the sauce. Let the sauce simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove basil sprigs.
Spread the flour on a plate. Lightly dredge the dried eggplant in flour, tapping off the excess. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, brown the eggplant in batches, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the slices as they brown, and drain on a paper-towel-lined sheet pan.
Once the sauce and eggplant are ready, brush six individual gratin dishes with olive oil. Spread a scant ¼ cup of sauce in the bottom of each dish. Fold the eggplant slices to line and fit the gratin dishes in an even layer. Spread another scant ¼ cup of sauce over the eggplant. Sprinkle sauce with about ¾ cup cheese. Lay a basil leaf over the cheese, and crack an egg into each dish. Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese and the dried oregano.
Place dishes on a baking sheet, and cover with foil. Bake until sauce is bubbly, about 15 minutes. Uncover, and bake until cheese is browned and eggs are done to your liking, about 5 minutes more for almost set yolks.