Friday, February 09, 2007

Eggplant au Gratin

I was craving eggplant, but didn't want something heavy with tomatoes (or as time-consuming as Eggplant Parmesan). This is the result: a light and delicate 'casserole' filled with veggies and cheese.

Serves 2
30 minutes + 45 minutes

Preheat oven: 350 F
-4 x 9 " pan
-large saucepan or skillet
-peeler and flipper

1 large or 2 small eggplants, peeled
1 large zucchini
3 medium roma tomatoes
5 cloves garlic
3 tsp. olive oil
1/2 c. mozzarella cheese*
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese*
1/4 c. fresh sweet basil, or 2 tsp. dried basil*
* I used Galaxy Nutritional Foods DF Rice Shreds 'mozzarella' and Galaxy Nutritional Foods soy Vegan Parmesan; McCormick spices are GF

1. Peel and slice eggplant lengthwise into 1/4th-inch-thick, large flat 'slabs'.
2. Cut off ends of zucchini and likewise slice into long thin strips-- the thinner the better.
3. Cut roma tomatoes lengthwise into 1/4th inch thick ovals. You need fresh tomatoes for this.
4. Remove skin and mince garlic cloves. Also cut up fresh basil, if you have it.
5. Pour 1 tsp. of olive oil onto large saucepan. The zucchini and eggplant are pre-cooked in oil before being placed in the oven. Saute the slices, PLUS a sprinkle of basil and garlic, in the olive oil over medium heat until they are tender, fused with garlic and slightly toasted. Since the final dish must be layered, I found it was easiest to saute the layers 'together'-- do two eggplant slices with two zucchini slices at a time.

6. Place the two eggplant slices on the bottom of the 4 x 9 " pan. Lay a few tomato slices over the eggplant, then top it off with two or three zucchini slices. Sprinkle a handful of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese over the zucchini.
7. Cook up another layer of eggplant, zucchini, basil and garlic in the skillet. Add more oil as needed. When tender, layer in pan as before: eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini and cheeses.
8. When pan is complete, generously sprinkle with remaining cheeses**, cover with Aluminum foil and bake in the 350 F degree oven for 30 minutes.
9. After 30 minutes, increase the heat to 400 F, remove foil, and let the cheese brown on top, cooking for another 15 minutes.
10. Serve hot, but after the excess moisture has been re-absorbed by the veggies.
**If using Rice shreds mozzarella, as I did, DO NOT top it off with cheese.. it will get super hard and tough. Instead, bake as directed, but add cheese on hot out of the oven and let it melt.

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