Yes, yes – I know it’s been over a month now since I’ve posted! And after a month of a variety of diets, I’m back to cooking whatever my heart desires (yet still keeping in mind the need to stay healthy). Part of that is what inspired a new trend I am trying at home, which is to prepare a vegetarian dinner at least once a week – no meat, whatsoever. (I’m sure my vegetarian readers are excited about this). I’ve always loved gratin’s, and found their sophisticated individual-sized portions lovely, and decided to start there, with this beautiful eggplant gratin (a favorite vegetable of mine).
Total Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serving Portion: 3 persons
2-3 large-sized eggplants
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup of whipping cream or half-and-half
2 cups of Parmesan
1 cup of good marinara sauce (you can use store bought, I made my own)
Salt and pepper for garnish
This recipe is super easy. First off, pre-heat the oven at 200C. If you have store-bought marina, you can use that, otherwise make sure you first have made your marinara sauce and are ready to use that (I included a quick marina recipe in a previous post). Begin by first slicing your eggplant about 1.5cm thick. Once complete, fry them on both sides in good olive oil, which should take about 5 minutes. Once complete, allow them to drain and pat the excess oil dry with a paper-towel. Leave on the side, and prepare your ricotta mixture – mix together the egg, whipping cream, 1/4 cup of parmesan (you’ll use the rest for layering), ricotta and 1/8 teaspoon of salt and pepper, each. Have your gratin dishes ready for layering – begin with a layer of eggplant on the bottom. Garnish with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with parmesan and spoon over the marinara sauce. Next, add a second layer of eggplant, salt and pepper, and then the ricotta mixture. Cover with additional parmesan – and you’re done. You can sprinkle on some bread crumbs to keep the top crispy if you like. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until top is bubbling and crispy.
The recipe is that simple. It’s a matter of just layering. It’s also such a beautiful center-dish for a quick weeknight dinner. I served it with a side of goat cheese salad and some garlic bread. It’s sometimes difficult to think of delicious, filling and original vegetarian dishes but this is one that definitely won’t disappoint. Plus, if you have kiddies around, you can always chop up additional vegetables and get use this as a way to sneak in some healthy ingredients.
Recipe, courtesy of Ina Garten