Eggplant Gratin with Tomatoes
Now that the Hunger Strike is over, I’ve found myself craving odd things. These are things I wouldn’t usually look forward to eating much less ask for specifically like eggplant or refried beans. I’m not going to lie, I’m glad it’s over for me. Sadly it’s not over for the people that live it every day. Make sure you’ve subscribed by entering your email in the sidebar to the right so you can hear about the updates and receive these posts in your email.
Each time I try eggplant I say it tastes good at the time and I am sincere, but as time goes on I don’t remember it in such a pleasant way. I truly believe that the only way to eat eggplant and remember it fondly is to bury it in cheese and smother it with tomato sauce seasoned with herbs de provence.
They are hideously bulbous creatures, aren’t they?
Organic Farm Grown Produce
Last week I was hoping to see more eggplant in our farm share so I could beg my other half to make this, but we only had one. I had to purposely buy an eggplant. I’m really enjoying our weekly farm shares, especially the berries. I enjoy not knowing what we will get and just dreaming up lovely things to do with our share. Have you looked into organic farms near you? I’ve actually discovered our summer shares have been less expensive than purchasing non organic produce from the grocery store.
As the French say, “Gratin d’ Aubergines a la Tomate”
I’m not sure if it is the French way or if he is just meticulous with his cooking, but he puts a lot of time and patience into this dish. Each slice of eggplant was carefully laid into the pan and he sprinkled the salt onto each slice to draw out the moisture. He patted each slice (on both sides) with his fingers to encourage the salt to stick to the eggplant slices.
He shared his recipe with us today. He adapted a recipe from La Rousse de la Cuisine, which is his go to cookbook. I’m starting to really enjoy it too, although I’m not always able to understand every word. I understand this though…
My Favorite Way to Eat Eggplant and it’s Gluten Free
This must be French for “you want this in your piehole”! The eggplant is still tender, but soft enough to cut with a fork. Rich cheese covers both the eggplant and tomato sauce and the herbs add a depth to the dish. There is no bitter,
grassy earthy eggplant flavor and I enjoy each and every bite.
As a friend I’m going to recommend that you stay away from herbs de provence blends that include lavender. That will completely ruin a treasure such as this. I’m not sure where the lavender fits in anyway since it seems that it’s not usually a part of this well known French herb blend. If you prefer that version, totally fine. Just don’t use it here in this recipe. 😉
- 2 medium eggplants, about 6" long is what we consider medium size
- 1½ pounds of fresh tomatoes, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 400 g of shredded cheese or more if you like cheese, we use four cheese blend
- 1 tsp. herbs de provence
- ¼ cup chicken stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Cut the ends off your eggplant, peel and slice into about ½ inch thick slices. Lay your eggplant on a large cutting board or baking dish and sprinkle salt on the top sides. Pat salt into each slice and turn slices over. Repeat for this second side. Let your eggplant slices sit for about 20 minutes.
- Mince your garlic, small dice your tomatoes. Measure out your herbs and chicken stock.
- With a dry paper towel, pat the moisture off your eggplant so each slice is dry. Preheat a pan with olive oil and cook your eggplant slices for 2-2½ minutes each side until parts of the slices are translucent but don't cook all the way through. Eggplant will soak up the olive oil so make sure to add some with each side. Set your cooked eggplant aside in a 9" by 13" baking dish, layering if necessary.
- In a medium to large size saucepan, add tomato and garlic with a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and simmer on medium-high heat. With settings of 1-10 I would estimate 6½-7 setting. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, then add chicken stock and herbs. Simmer for 10 more minutes. If the juices from your tomatoes and chicken stock evaporate you can add a little more stock and simmer. You don't want it dry, but not like soup either. Just a bit of moisture so it resembles a fairly thick tomato sauce.
- Spoon half of your sauce in the bottom of a 9 by 13 pan. Lay eggplant over the sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Spoon sauce over eggplant since there will not be enough to drench your eggplant spoon it over in places using the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with cheese.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.
- After cheese is melted by baking, broil for just a couple minutes until cheese is browned in places. Watch closely for this step.