This recipe is a gem.
It works well as a side dish or even the main attraction for an easy, light weeknight dinner. It’s got flavor complexity and really is a little out of the ordinary as far as side dishes are concerned. And it was easy to prepare; 15 or so minutes and I was ready to pop them in the oven. I think it’d be perfect for a fancy dinner, but also is great for a casual night too. So yes, I’d definitely say it’s a gem.
I used fat-free half and half because it’s what I had on hand and I figured it’d make the dish a little healthier, and it worked wonderfully. You could probably make this into one large gratin to serve many very easily, but I can’t say what the baking time would be because I haven’t given it a try yet. I’ve got a thing for individual portions and getting to use all my cute little dishes, so these eggplant gratins were right up my alley. But if you do try making it in one large casserole dish, let me know how it works out and how long it took to bake.
And now for the recipe in pictures. Here’s the eggplant all ready to go. (I followed the same eggplant prep for this recipe as in the Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Pizza, but the original recipe doesn’t call for that, so you could probably skip that step and be just fine. I had the time, though, so decided to get rid of those bitter juices. I left this step out of the instructions below.)
Now fry up these babies in a little oil.
And they splatter, so use a screen if you have one. This one is from Ikea and I love it because the handle folds down and it stores completely flat.
While the eggplant are making their magic in the skillet, stir together the ricotta mixture in a small bowl.
And assemble once you’re eggplant are cooked through. Place the individual gratins on a rimmed cookie sheet (I lined mine with aluminum foil for easier clean-up) and bake.
Mmm. This is sooo good.
recipe from Ina Garten
- Prep Time: 15 minutes.
- Cook Time: 30 minutes.
- Ready in 45 Minutes.
- Makes: 2 Servings
- canola oil, for frying
- 3/4 pound eggplant, unpeeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup half-and-half
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup good bottled marinara sauce
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Heat about 1/8-inch of canola oil in a very large frying pan over medium heat. (I used my cast-iron skillet and it worked beautifully.) When the oil is almost smoking, add several slices of eggplant and cook, turning once, until they are evenly browned on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Be careful, it splatters! Use a splatter screen if you have one. Transfer the cooked eggplant slices to paper towels to drain. Add more oil, heat, and add the rest of the eggplant until all the slices are cooked.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, half-and-half, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
- In each of 2 individual gratin dishes (I used the same dishes I use for creme brulee), place a layer of eggplant slices, then sprinkle with Parmesan, salt and pepper and spoon 1/2 of the marinara sauce. Next, add a second layer of eggplant, more salt and pepper, half the ricotta mixture, and finally 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan on top.
- Place the gratins on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the custard sets and the top is browned. Serve warm.
P.S. I’ve been missing sharing recipes with you, but it’s been a bit hectic around The Bird House recently. The Phoenix made it back from visiting the Canadians, but now we’ve leaped into the world of potty training our toddler and I can hardly think straight. Since it’s a food blog, I’ll refrain from sharing any details at this time. But know that I miss you and eventually I’ll be back in action on a more regular basis.
And please pray for me. And my little birds. We’re having a week, I tell ya.