1. Preheat oven to 400º. Wrap the eggplant in aluminum foil and bake for 35 to 55 minutes, depending on its size, until it feels tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
2. Place 1 tablespoon of the oil in the bottom of a large, shallow casserole or gratin dish. Peel the eggplant, then slice it thinly. Place a slice of eggplant in the casserole dish; top with a slice of tomato and, next to it, a slice of mozzarella; overlap the two slightly so they fit on the eggplant. Repeat until you have used all of the eggplant. Make two rows of topped slices, side by side, in the dish.
3. Sprinkle with basil, thyme, salt, and pepper. Scatter the tomatoes (or pour sauce) on top and drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Bake for 25 minutes.
4. Remove the casserole from the oven and top with bread crumbs and grated cheese. Bake another 10 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and eggplant is tender. Serve hot.
How kids can help: Wrap the eggplant in foil; place oil and layer ingredients in the casserole dish.