Roasted eggplants and roasted tomatoes both appear regularly at our dinner table, but I’ve never tried preparing them together. The funny thing is, I actually use the same base ingredients to marinate them–olive oil, balsamic vinegar, herbs, garlic–but it never occurred to me to combine the two. This is what makes cookbooks so fun for me: You learn to create new things out of the old standbys.
This recipe is a new find from Patricia Wells’ At Home in Provence. It was the first dish that I marked to try after receiving this book as a Christmas gift. In fact, it’s been a pleasant surprise to find that I want to try several dishes out of this book. This gratin didn’t disappoint. The slow roasting brought out the sweetness of the vegetables and the sharpness of the cheese. What’s more, the dish took only a few minutes to prepare. This is a definite keeper but next time, I might follow through with my original plan of adding a thinly-sliced potato to the mix just to make the dish a little heftier.
Tomato and Eggplant Gratin
- 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (I used a little more)
- 3 small eggplants, each weighing about 5 ounces or the equivalent weight in larger eggplants, trimmed at stem end (I used one large)
- Fine sea salt to taste (I always use kosher salt)
- 3 Tbsp finely minced mixed fresh herb leaves, such as rosemary, sage, thyme and basil (I used fresh sage)
- A pinch of dried oregano
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces; 60 grams) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 2 pounds (1 kg) fresh tomatoes, cored and halved crosswise (I used Roma tomatoes)
Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the bottom of a 2-quart gratin dish. If the eggplants are small, slice then in half lengthwise. If they are large, cut them into four lengthwise slices. Place the eggplant slices skin side down in a single layer in the gratin dish. Lightly score them with a sharp knife (Here’s where I used more since I also brushed the tops of eggplant slices). Sprinkle with salt, minced fresh herbs and oregano. Sprinkle with about half the cheese. Place the tomato halves, cut side down, on top of the eggplant in a single layer. Brush the tomato skins with the rest of the olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Place the gratin dish in the center of the oven and bake until the vegetables are soft and almost falling apart, about 1 hour. The tops of the tomatoes should be almost black, and the juices from the eggplant and tomatoes should turn thick and almost caramelized. Serve warm or at room temperature as a side dish or main vegetable dish.