I’ve gotten some nice eggplant from the CSA this summer. I sliced and grilled one of them on the barbecue, which was delicious. I’ve also made this recipe several times. It’s a bit like eggplant parmigiana, but it’s much easier to put together. For one thing, you don’t have to sweat or bread the eggplant.
I’m not sure if my eggplant was Japanese or not, but I decided to cook it with the skin on, and it wasn’t tough. My eggplant was green.
Frying the eggplant in olive oil makes the pan spit a lot, so be careful when you’re cooking it. Some reviewers of the original recipe suggested spraying the eggplant slices with olive oil and broiling them so they didn’t absorb oil while cooking. I might try that next time, but I think it’s delicious this way too.
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Recipe by Ina Garten
Good olive oil, for frying
3/4 pound eggplant, unpeeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 extra-large egg
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 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, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
In each of 2 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 to each, and finally 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan on top of each dish. You should end up with gratin in 2 individual dishes.
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.
Yield: 2 servings