Eggplant Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil

two 1-pound eggplants
kosher salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup packed basil leaves, coarsely shredded
1 14-ounce can peeled italian plum tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
16 1/2-inch slices of country bread

Make ahead:
The cooked eggplant can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Rewarm before serving.

1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove 1 lengthwise strip of skin from opposite sides of each eggplant. Slice the eggplants crosswise 1/4 inch thick. Stack several slices and cut them into 1/4-inch matchsticks; repeat with the remaining eggplant. Transfer the eggplant to a colander, sprinkle generously with salt and toss to coat. Let drain for at least 30 minutes. Squeeze handfuls of the eggplant to extract the bitter juices.

2. Warm 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the eggplant and toss it quickly to coat with oil. Reduce the heat to moderate, add the garlic and crushed red pepper and season with black pepper. cook, stirring, until the eggplant begins to soften, about 15 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons of the basil and cook until just wilted. Add half the tomatoes and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining tomatoes and cook until thick, about 15 minutes longer. season with salt and keep warm.

3. Meanwhile, preheat a grill or broiler. brush the bread on both sides with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Grill or broil the bread until lightly charred. Spoon the eggplant on the grilled bread, top with the remaining 1 tablespoon of basil and serve right away.

Servings: 8

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