olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
400g can crushed Italian tomatoes
½ teaspoon salt
pinch raw sugar to sweeten (optional)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 medium-large eggplants
flaky sea salt
2 large red peppers/capsicums
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
½ cup coarse sourdough breadcrumbs or panko crumbs
½ cup basil leaves
125g ball mozzarella cheese, sliced

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1.Preheat the oven to 200°C.
2.Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan with the garlic.
3.Cook gently until garlic just turns golden.
4.Add tomatoes, salt, sugar (if using) and black pepper.
5.Bring to a gentle boil, then lower the heat and cook for about 30 minutes until pulpy, stirring often.
6.Cut eggplants lengthways into long thin slices.
7.Lightly brush slices on both sides with olive oil and cook on a preheated barbecue hot plate or in a hot ridged grill pan until tender and golden on both sides.
8.Transfer to a plate as they are done and sprinkle with sea salt.
9.Repeat with remaining slices.
10.Cook peppers directly over a gas flame until blackened, turning with tongs.
11.Alternatively, cook them in the flames of a barbecue, or on the rack in the preheated oven, turning them as they blacken (they’ll take around 20 minutes in an oven).
12.When all the outer skin is charred, transfer to a plate, drape with paper towels and leave until cool, then peel off blackened skins, rinsing fingers, but not the peppers or you’ll wash off gorgeous flavour.
13.Cut peppers in half, reserving juices, remove cores and seeds and cut flesh into strips, then cut strips in half.
14.Put a layer of eggplant in a shallow ovenproof dish (approx 2 litre capacity).
15.Scatter over some red pepper and top with a few blobs of sauce (use about half the sauce in layering, reserving the remainder for the top of the dish), a scattering of parmesan (likewise with the parmesan – use half in layering and save half for the top), a smattering of crumbs and a few basil leaves, a few pinches of salt and a little grind of pepper, and a portion of the mozzarella.
16.Add any pepper juices.
17.Repeat the layers until everything is used up, finishing with a good covering of sauce.
18.Scatter with remaining parmesan.
19.Bake gratin for 30 minutes, until bubbling and golden on top.
20.Serve hot, while the mozzarella is melting and stretchy, or at room temperature (the cheese will still be supple but not stretchy).
21.Leftovers, should there be any, reheat well in a microwave.

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