Monday, April 7, 2008

Barefoot in Paris: Eggplant Gratin

This was my first recipe for my cookbook challenge. It's from April's cookbook: Barefoot in Paris, by Ina Garten. I should have read the recipe closer when I choose it, because it turned out to be pretty unhealthy! Eggplant soaks up the oil, so it had to have a ton of fat and calories. I used reduced fat ricotta and fat free half and half, which helps. I would love to play around with the fried eggplant, because I did really like the taste of this recipe. I might also do less of the egg/cheese combo, so you taste the eggplant a little more. It really did seem like a recipe you would eat in France, with some Italian flavoring, too. I made it in an 8 x 8 Le Cruset baking dish, since I didn't have smaller dishes like she suggested. I served it with a pesto chicken sausage, pasta w/ marinara sauce, and some sauteed dandelion greens (which were gross!). Great dinner overall.

I salted my eggplant, to make sure it wasn't bitter.

Eggplant Gratin from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten

Good olive oil, for frying

1 1/2 pound eggplant, unpeeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup good bottled marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat about 1/8-inch of olive oil in a very large frying pan over medium heat. 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! Transfer the cooked eggplant slices to paper towels to drain. Add more oil, heat, and add more eggplant until all the slices are cooked.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, half-and-half, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

In each of 4 individual gratin dishes, 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.


Ally said...

That looks wonderful! Man, I wish dh liked eggplant! I'll have to figure out a way to make this for myself.

Peabody said...

Looks good. I too am not a dandelion green fan.

Neen said...

I'm so jealous that you managed to find edible eggplants! We bought some last week, and you could really tell that they were 6 months out of season. Sigh. But maybe frying can fix anything! So cool to meet another Chicago-an, we just moved from there and truly miss it!