Monday, August 18, 2008

Eggplant, Zucchini & Basil Gratin

Eggplant & Zucchini Gratin
I seem to be on this vegetarian comfort food kick. Tonight's dinner was a lovely success, layering eggplant, zucchini, cheese, breadcrumbs and basil. I completely winged it (having only about 2 brain cells left to rub together after a late night and a long day) but at the first bite Lisl and I were both at "wow!" I suppose I shouldn't be surprised... melted veggies with gobs of cheese and olive oil? As Mr. Powers would say, yeah baby!

2 golden zucchini (green or summer squash would do as well)
2 medium Japanese eggplants
2 slices whole wheat bread
handful of basil leaves
mozzarella cheese
monterey jack cheese
parmesan cheese
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

In a food processor, pulse your bread into breadcrumbs. Preheat oven at 350F.

Peel the eggplant with a vegetable peeler and slice lengthwise into slices about a millimeter or so thick. Salt both sides and place in a collander to drain for about 20 minutes. Dry the slices with paper towel. Then slice the zucchini the same thickness (as best you can -- this dish is anything but scientific!).

Heat a large pan with olive oil on medium to medium-high heat and saute your batch of eggplant and zucchini, adding more olive oil to the pan between each batch. You don't need to cook the slices all the way - about 30-40 seconds a side should suffice in the hot pan - just enough to soften them.

In a deep baking dish baking dish begin layering (hopefully you can get a sense of the size of my dish in the below pictures -- it is 3" deep). Place a layer of eggplant down first. (Note: don't be afraid to cut your slices of eggplant or zucchini into the necessary size to fit the gaps in a layer) Then grate a layer of parmesan cheese. Then add a layer of zucchini, a layer of breadcrumbs, and a layer of grated mozzarella cheese. Grind some fresh pepper and a little salt.

Add another layer of eggplant and then a layer of grated monterey jack cheese. Then lay down a layer of basil leaves, another layer of zucchini, a layer of breadcrumbs, and a layer of parmesan cheese and a little more fresh pepper.
eggplant zucchini gratin (layered)
Out of focus picture but you get the point...

Continue layering the eggplant and the zucchini, alternating cheese types with an occasional layer of breadcrumbs until you are out of vegetables (as I said... this isn't scientific). Grind some fresh pepper on the top, and put down a final layer of breadcrumbs and gratings of all three types of cheeses. Drizzle some olive oil over top.

I baked for about 20 minutes at 350F, then got hungry and kicked it up to 375F for another 15 minutes, then let cool for a few minutes. You get a delightful crust and a totally melted core. The layer of basil really permeates this dish nicely. It's rich, but oh so satisfying. This dish can handle a hefty, peppery red wine should you be so inclined.

Eggplant & Zucchini Gratin (out of oven)

I'll end with a few "ingredients" pictures.

I love how this one came out.

Golden Zucchini


Stacey Snacks said...

This is a tian.
I was going to make an olive oil zucchini cake w/ the bounty, but will make this instead!
I will keep you posted!
Thanks, Stacey

Giff said...

I'd never heard of a "tian" before, so thanks for teaching me something new Stacey! I hope you like the results. I just had the leftovers for lunch, and the basil permeated the dish even more overnight and in re-warming. Delicious!

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

I love non-recipes like this. Can't wait to try it. Our growing season here in FL is opposite and doesn't start until October or November, so I'll have to wait until then!