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Eggplant and Zucchini Gratin by Julia Child - (Free Recipe below)

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This eggplant and zucchini gratin recipe from Julia Child is a true classic. It makes a great side dish or can be served as the main meal. The dish is colorful and is great for entertaining or bringing to an event when you are asked to contribute. It is also fairly easy, which can be a pleasant change of pace for fans of Julia Child recipes.

Eggplant dishes are usually heartier than other vegetable based recipes. Eggplant is a common substitute for meat dishes and adds some bulk to this gratin. Like zucchini, it has a distinctive taste that many consider less bland than many vegetables. It also pairs well with many seasonings. The vegetables are packed with vitamins and nutrients, but the dish still seems indulgent. It is a favorite of vegetarians and vegans, but also pleases meat eaters as a side dish. Of all the eggplant dishes out there, this is one of the most interesting and elevates simple ingredients to something special.

This tasty dish is made even better with a sprinkle of Herbs de Provence or a similar spice mix. It provides a distinctly French flair without creating a traditionally French dish, filled with heavy sauces or creams.

Eggplant and Zucchini Gratin by Julia Child

1/2 cup or so olive oil 1 large or 2 medium eggplants 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence 1 teaspoon salt 2 medium zucchini, about 1 pound total 3 or 4 ripe tomatoes, about 1 pound total 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

For bread-crumb topping: 1/2 cup or so fresh bread crumbs, not too finely ground 1/3 cup or so freshly grated Parmesan cheese

For herbs de Provence substitute the following mixture:

2 tsp each dried thyme 1/2 tsp savory 1/4 tsp dried rosemary and 1/4 tsp mint 1/8 tsp fennel seeds 1/8 tsp dried sage

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8

We're topping this gratin with provolone and Parmesan cheeses. You could easily top it with Gruyere instead. For a more Provencal approach, skip the cheese all together and top with bread crumbs, minced garlic, parsley, and olive oil.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced yellow onion (1 large onion)
  • 1 cup of sliced red, orange, or yellow bell peppers
  • 1 long eggplant (a slender eggplant like a Japanese eggplant, not a large globe, about 1/2 pound)
  • 1 large zucchini (about 10 to 12 inches long, 1 1/2 inch diameter, about 1/2 pound), or other summer squash
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 ounces Provolone cheese, sliced or grated
  • 3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

METHOD

1 Sauté the onions and peppers: In a large sauté pan heat 2 Tbsp of the olive oil on medium high heat. Add the sliced onions and cook until lightly browned, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.

Add the sliced bell peppers and continue to cook with the onions until the bell peppers are softened and the onions are well browned, about 5 to 6 minutes more.

 

When done, transfer the onions and bell peppers into a large gratin pan or casserole dish.

2 Slice the eggplant, zucchini, and tomato in similar sized rounds: While the onions and peppers are cooking, slice the eggplant and zucchini in 1/4-inch thick round slices.

You'll also want to slice the tomato into 1/4-inch thick slices, but depending on how big your tomato is, you may need to cut the tomato in half or in quarters first.

All of the sliced vegetable pieces should be about the same size to make it easier to layer them in an attractive manner.

3 Layer the eggplant, zucchini, tomato rounds on top of the onions, bell peppers as garlic: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Spread the cooked onions and bell peppers in an even layer at the bottom of the gratin dish. Place the mashed garlic on top of the onions and peppers.

Arrange the slices of the eggplant, zucchini, and tomato on top of the cooked onions and peppers, alternating the vegetables, in an attractive pattern, stacking them and fanning them across the surface of the dish.

 

4 Top with salt, parsley, cheeses, olive oil: Sprinkle with salt and parsley. Top with Provolone and Parmesan cheeses.

Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil around the perimeter, where the vegetables meet the side of the dish.

5 Cover with foil and bake, broil uncovered to finish: Cover with foil (it helps to grease the underside of the foil with a little olive oil so that the cheese as it melts does not stick to the foil).

Bake for 40 minutes at 350°F (175°C). Remove the foil. Turn on the broiler and broil for 5 minutes or until nicely browned.