Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Grilled Eggplant Gratin

Okay, this is not a traditional gratin—it's more of a casserole, but Andy is opposed to that word. A gratin traditionally has a crispy, cheesy topping, and this does apply. I love eggplant and was so excited to have one in my farmers market basket last week. I was inspired by an eggplant lasagna my friend Cindy brought to church last month. The eggplant is paired with a simple and super-quick tomato sauce. Those ingredients are layered with ricotta and Parmesan cheese—delicious!

Grilled Eggplant Gratin
It is important to salt the sliced eggplant, and let it stand for about 30 minutes; then rinse it off, and pat dry. This removes any bitterness.
Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 (14.5-oz.) cans diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
1 eggplant, sliced, salted, and rinsed
1 cup ricotta cheese
Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Italian-blend shredded cheese

1. Sauté onion in hot oil 5 minutes or until onion begins to soften. Stir in garlic, and cook 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes and next 6 ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Use an immersion blender to puree mixture until smooth. Cook until thoroughly heated.
2. Meanwhile, place eggplant on a grill pan drizzled with a little olive oil. Sprinkle eggplant with salt and pepper. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side.
3. In a baking dish, ladle in enough tomato sauce to cover bottom of dish. Top with a layer of grilled eggplant. Spread half of ricotta over top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers once. Then top with remaining tomato sauce, and sprinkle with additional Parmesan and shredded cheese.
4. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

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