Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Happy Spring: Tomato and Eggplant Gratin

Spring is officially here, and wedding season has begun.  We were happy to spend last weekend in Washington to celebrate dear friends' marriage.  We also got to spend a St. Patrick's Day/ Happy Birthday Val party with great friends on Saturday.
To celebrate our lovely (and early here in Colorado) spring weather, today is dedicated to eggplant.  Eggplant can be a tricky vegetable to cook, as it easily becomes slimy or chewy.  To do eggplant justice, you need a little bit of time and patience.  Some recipes advise salting the eggplant to remove potentially bitter liquid and reduce the amount of cooking fat that is absorbed.  I notice that this technique, even after careful rinsing, leaves my dish undesirably salty.  In addition, I have never noticed any bitter flavor in fully cooked eggplant.  The key is to roast the eggplant for enough time to allow the plant to break down and tenderize.  This dish roasts eggplant with fresh tomatoes and olive oil.  The roasting process does not require much oil, and therefore prevents a greasy dish.

Tomato and Eggplant Gratin
Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 roma tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 large globe eggplant, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 6oz chevere, or other soft goat cheese, crumbled
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Brush a large oval baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
  3. Arrange the tomato and eggplant in a single layer of overlapping circles.
  4. Spread the thyme on top and season mildly with salt and pepper.
  5. Drizzle remaining olive oil over top and cover with foil.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil.
  7. Bake for an additional 25-30 minutes until the juices have evaporated and the eggplant is tender.
  8. Sprinkle goat cheese over top, and bake an additional 10 minutes.
  9. Serve warm.

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