03 September 2006

Gratin d'aubergines et de tomates

This is my current version of what we used to call Eggplant Parmesan, but slimmed down and cleaned up.

Gratin d'aubergines et de tomates
Back in the old days, you would slice the eggplants (aubergines in French and in British English), dip the slices in egg and breadcrumbs, and then fry them until they were soft and golden. That added a lot of fat to the dish. Eggplant Parmesan was made with eggplants, tomato sauce, and parmesan cheese.

At one point a few years ago I saw a French recipe that left out the breadcrumbs but still had you dip the eggplant slices in egg and fry them. I tried that once but I didn't think the egg added anything, and it ended up too rich and greasy.

Nowadays, what I do is cut the eggplant into slices 1 cm or even 2 cm (about ½ in.) thick and lay them out on an oiled baking sheet. I use olive oil, and I use a brush to "paint" the exposed side of the eggplant slices with the oil. Then I put them into a hot oven (400ºF or 200ºC) for 15 or 20 minutes. I just have to watch them to make sure they are softening without getting too brown. The top of my oven seems to be a lot hotter than the bottom (c'est normal, non?) and when I made this the other day I had three pans in the oven at one time, on different levels. When the slices are done the way you want them, take them out and let them cool for a few minutes on the pans.

Meanwhile, slice some tomatoes and some mozzarella cheese. Crush and chop a couple of garlic cloves. Proportions don't matter much here — you need about as many layers of tomato as eggplant slices for the dish, and you can put in as much garlic as you like.

Put a thin layer of olive oil on the bottom of a baking dish. Remove the cooked slices of eggplant from the baking pans with a long spatula and put a layer of them in the bottom of the dish. Put a layer of tomato slices over them. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper, some of the chopped garlic, and a little thyme or other herbs to taste. Dribble on some olive oil if you want. Then put on some mozzarella slices — again, the amount of cheese is up to you. C'est vous qui voyez, comme on dit.

Slices of cooked eggplant, raw tomato, and mozzarella cheese,
seasoned with garlic, herbs, and olive oil

Make two or even three layers this way. Finish with some slices of mozzarella so that it will brown on top. Put the dish in a hot oven (again, 200ºC) and let it cook until it's done the want you want it.

Depending on how cooked your eggplant slices are, and how cooked you want the tomatoes to be, you might leave it in the oven for 20 minutes or even 60 minutes. If you leave it as long as an hour, turn the oven down after 20 minutes or so so that it doesn't burn on top. If you want to, you can cover it after it's partially cooked and browned.

I covered mine after 20 minutes or so, and left it in the oven for an hour, turning the heat down to 160ºC (about 300ºF) when I put the cover on. I was using Roma tomatoes (olivettes) and they were ripe but not very juicy, so I wanted them to cook for a while. And I wanted to make sure the thickest eggplant slices were thoroughly cooked.

The finished dish contained a fair amount of liquid, which happens when you cook eggplant or zucchini in the oven. What I did was use a turkey baster to draw off the liquid (it was a good-flavored broth with some olive oil floating on top), put it in a bowl, and serve it alongside the gratin. You could spoon it on as desired on your plate.

Gratin d'aubergines — on en mangerait !


  1. Merci mille fois pour la recette!

    It sounds so simple and I like the fact that there is no need for deep frying.

    Off to the kitchen I go...

    PS I am so envious of your bountiful garden. We live in a woodsy part of Michigan, with not enough sunlight to sustain any plantings (with the exception of hostas). If we were to clear some trees for a garden, the army of animals traspassing on our land would look upon it as their own salad buffet ;-)

  2. Thanks, Ken. I'm going to try this!

  3. I made it tonight for dinner. It was great. Thanks!

  4. Hi Ginny, do Mitch, Gabe, and Molly like eggplant? So many people don't, or think they don't. Did you have eggplants in your garden this year? Hope work isn't too stressful these days...

  5. You ABSOLUTELY MUST consider writing a cookbook!!!!!! And I am not kidding.

  6. Hello sietske, thanks for the idea but I have no credentials as a cook. I just do what I like and enjoy eating and taking pictures. Are you OK there in Beirut (is that where you are?) Bon courage, Ken

  7. Beata Isabella, find a sunny spot and put a fence up around your garden. That's what we did. The fence keeps the deer and rabbits out (but not the moles).

  8. Only Mitch and I eat eggplant. The kids ate pasta and salad, while Mitch and I gorged on "gratin d'aubergines et de tomates." Someday they will learn.

    Our garden is going great guns--lots of tomatoes, cukes, and yellow squash. I took another one of your great ideas and made a squash Baba Ghanoush kind of thing from the large yellow squash. Tasty!

    I've been pickling beets and cukes, but I don't always have enough time. I envy you that. We give stuff away, too.

    Work is finally calming down a bit, though I have 3 books to finish up in the next two weeks. Then a few days off, I hope! We went to Strawberry this weekend, and it was beautiful but not completely relaxing for me. Still too much on my mind. Soon!

  9. Bonsoir Ken,

    I did your recipe tonight (hmm, I added "des courgettes" to the "aubergines"/eggplant and tomatoes since you offered me quite a lot of them) and I added some "parmesan". I used the beautiful dish I bought in Le Castellet ("un plat en terre cuite" de couleur saumon which one can use to make "gratins"AND "brochettes") and I used the superb olive oil I bought at the "Moulin du Partégal" in La Farlède, close to Toulon and Giens/Hyères) The recipe was great, Francis and Franck "se sont régalés"/really enjoyed it.

    Now, I'm heading to bed because I'm exhausted after these 4 hours of teaching and the fact that I rode my bike in the evening... Bises. Marie

    PS : is the person called Sietske from Beyrouth like my good American friend, Cathy ???


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