But most of all, the specialness of this gratin comes down to the freshness of the ingredients, particularly these luscious farmers market tomatoes:
|Tomatoes, ready for their close up.|
Summer Tomato, Eggplant, & Herb Gratin
2-3 large tomatoes, cut into 1/8 inch slices
1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/8" slices
handful of fresh thyme sprigs
1-2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
1/2-3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
handful basil leaves, chiffonade
salt and pepper, to taste
Drizzle some olive oil in an oval casserole, and place a layer of eggplant, slightly overlapping, in concentric circles. Drizzle more olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Place a layer of tomatoes on top of this. Depending on the size of your casserole, you may have more eggplant and tomato slices; continue layering, alternating eggplant and tomato, until gone. Top with the thyme and oregano, add another drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes at 375 F. Uncover and bake for another 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the panko and Parmesan and enough olive oil to moisten the bread crumbs. Spread in a thin layer on top of the gratin and bake, uncovered, for an additional 10 minutes or until brown and crispy. Top with the fresh basil leaves.
We enjoyed this with a totally random assortment of things thrown into a bowl and dubbed "salad:"
|Arugula, grape tomatoes, avocado, hummus with paprika and truffle oil, all tossed in a Dijon vinaigrette. Weird, but strangely good.|
If you'd like to go a more sensible route for your dinner, however, I would suggest pairing this gratin with fresh grilled fish. Or just make this your meal and call it a day.