Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer Tomato, Eggplant, & Herb Gratin

There are plenty of summer gratin recipes out there, all fighting for your attention. So what makes this one so special? Well, for one thing, it's pretty. (If I do say so myself.) For another, unlike some of its heavier cousins, it's not a cheese-laden calorie bomb. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's not what I want on a hot day.

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.
The recipe itself is pure simplicity, as the best summer dishes usually are. I like to add the breadcrumbs near the end of cooking - that way, they soak up extra juices while still retaining crispness.

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
olive oil
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. 





20 comments:

  1. You are absolutely right that this is beautiful. And easy! And just in time for the basket of fresh tomatoes I received yesterday. One can never have enough things to do with garden grown tomatoes. Love the random salad as well. That is a regular feature of our weeknight dinner. Random salad.

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  2. A great recipe=) This is a must make recipe. Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend!

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  3. Whats a great delicious dish would eat it all!

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  4. I love that the tomatoes are ready for their close up! Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes-that's our summer fun;-)
    I just warmed up a corn tortilla with cheese and loaded it with tomatoes for dinner, I'm easy;-) Your dish looks a little more involved but so worth it;-)

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  5. I like the fact that it is not loaded with cheese ; summery and yet light- nice recipe !

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  6. No, no, no, let me have both the salad and the gratin as they are presented! Real food: how can one pass it :) !

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  7. "I dub thee salad" - leaves me with a mental image of a knighting and swords and all that stuff :-)
    Lovely looking, seasonally appropriate treats.

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  8. I am loving the hummus and avocado combo, never tried it before. Bet the tomato gratin and the salad would be great together ... and good for you too!

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  9. I never thought I'd say this, but what a sexy looking gratin! Your ingredients are so fresh, they literally pop out of the screen (and straight into my mouth...well, that's the fantasy:)). Throwing in the breadcrumbs is a great idea, as is having this with a random, thrown-together salad. Come over and cook for me please, Trixie!

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  10. Thanks for visiting my blog…so glad to meet you! I’m really enjoying my visit to your very lovely, fun blog!!
    Love your gratin…not only does it look pretty…but it’s healthy, too! I could make a meal out of it!!

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  11. go ahead, say it, I think it is pretty too... with a beautiful fresh taste you can only get in the summer - just perfect, my kind of eating for sure...

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  12. Lovely! I think my partner would love a gluten-free version of this. He was already salivating over the photos of the tomato tartlets we did for French Fridays, but I don't have the heart to bash out a batch of gluten-free puff pastry in this heat...

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  13. If I'm not eating a salad or other raw food, then a gratin I can pop into the oven is just the ticket for a summer day. And this one looks outstanding.

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  14. This looks like the perfect summer dish. And yes, so pretty too. Yum!

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  15. A lovely and lighter grating. Those tomatoes looks so wonderful I would eat them before they hit the oven.

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  16. Looks yummy..... just drop by your blog, great blog will like to follow it.

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  17. This is absolutely picture perfect. I've been eating my way through the tomato garden for a month now... can't wait to try this.

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  18. Tomatoes are a vegetable (or technically fruit) that I cannot live without. I've never had a tomato gratin. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe and for the introduction. Your salad sounds really good. I love just mixing up whatever and calling it a "salad".

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  19. this reminds me of a fantastic dish I had in Central France a few years ago. Food that takes me back to a special place is good food!

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