Eggplant Au Gratin

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I saw these little eggplants at the market the other day and without thinking I just picked up a handful.  They really are so beautiful in color and shape.  I never really know how to cook with eggplant.  

I've had stuffed eggplants before with tomatoes and beef stuffed into the eggplant shell and then baked in the oven.  I love that combination.  I've been on the lookout for more recipes to try out using eggplant.

Now that we are in full swing with our school schedule, we're having to make a determined effort to pull meals together that are not only quick but that are healthy.  Because at the end of the day...Mom is exhausted!

This is an eggplant au gratin that is very easy to make.  It's basically made like a Potato au Gratin.  It could be used as a vegetarian main dish or as a side to a meat dish.  I added a layer of parmesan cheese to the top but I think crumbled goat cheese on top would be a better choice. 

The surprise to this dish was the increased flavors the day after it was baked.  We ate the leftovers for lunch for a couple of days and the flavors were deeper compared to the first serving.  

We're trying to experiment more with vegetable dishes as our main course this year.  Adding some crunchy bread and a small glass of red wine makes a delicious meal.

Eggplant Au Gratin

2 teaspoons olive oil
3 baby round eggplant or one large regular eggplant, sliced
2 small red onions, sliced
1 cup shitake mushrooms, diced 
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup basil loosely packed basil leaves and chopped
Salt and pepper
1 cup light cream (or 1/2 milk and heavy cream)

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and position a rack in the middle. In a 9x9 inch gratin dish lightly coated with a bit of olive oil, place some eggplant slices in a single layer. Top with a single layer each of onion slices, diced mushrooms. Sprinkle with some garlic, chopped basil and salt and pepper. Repeat the layering until all the vegetables are used.   Pour the cream over the top Cover the dish with foil for the first 30 minutes so the eggplant doesn't dry out. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.  I added some grated Parmesan cheese over the top before serving.  Goat Cheese crumbled over the top would be delicious as well.

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