Grilled eggplant (aubergine in British English) makes for a spectacular and satisfying entrée. This dish is a perennial menu favorite at The Gate and is great for entertaining because the schnitzels can be assembled ahead, then baked just before serving. Serve with couscous, bulgur, or potatoes and sautéed greens.
1. To make Pesto: Pulse basil, pine nuts, and garlic in blender or food processor until finely chopped. Add olive oil and lemon juice, and pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and set aside.
2. To make Schnitzel: Preheat oven to broil. Broil bell peppers on baking sheet 30 minutes, or until blackened all over, turning every 10 minutes. Cool, then peel. Seed each bell pepper, and cut into 4 strips.
3. Reduce oven heat to 325°F. Spread panko on baking sheet, and toast 7 to 8 minutes in oven, or until light brown. Cool, and transfer to plate.
4. Brush both sides of eggplant slices with olive oil. Heat grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill eggplant 2 minutes per side, working in batches. Transfer to plate to cool.
5. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk eggs in wide, shallow bowl. Spread flour on large plate.
6. To assemble Schnitzel: Place 4 grilled eggplant slices on parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread each with 2 Tbs. Pesto. Top each with 1 strip broiled bell pepper, 2 to 3 tomato slices, 2 Tbs. cheese, and a second eggplant slice, seasoning with salt and pepper, if desired, between layers. Repeat layering, ending with a third eggplant slice.
7. Coat each Schnitzel in flour, then beaten egg, then panko breadcrumbs, and return to prepared baking sheet. Bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until Schnitzels are golden brown and crispy.
8. To make Lemon Aïoli: Blend soymilk, lemon juice, and garlic in blender until combined. With motor running, blend in vegetable oil until mixture has the texture of mayonnaise. Season with salt, and add pepper, if desired.
9. Serve Schnitzel with Lemon Aïoli.