I love Ina Garten! Almost everyday during lunch time, my coworker (and friend) and I eat our lunches in front of the tv while watching her show Barefoot Contessa. Most of the dishes that she makes are so delectable, with lots of flavors. One particular dish that she made in that show is Eggplant gratin. I love eggplant, and I’m obsessed with cheese so I thought, this is one perfect dish that I should try! One thing that I really like about this dish is it has very few ingredients, yet the product tastes like you put a lot of effort in making it. At least that was what my partner thought when I served this as an appetizer on our Valentine’s day dinner. He was completely blown away by the richness of the dish. He was actually surprised that he was eating an eggplant!
adapted from Barefoot Contessa
- Good olive oil, for frying
- 3/4 pound eggplant, unpeeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick [I used 2 big eggplants]
- 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 extra-large egg
- 1/4 cup half-and-half
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
- Kosher salt
- 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! It is very important that the oil is very hot so it can evenly fry the eggplant. Otherwise, if you add the eggplant when the oil is not yet hot, the eggplant will just soak up all the oil.
- 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, 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.
You may also use one big gratin dish instead of the individual ones.