Eggplant Gratin

Though the farmers' market is dwindling in variety, eggplant has been consistently good over the past couple of weeks. This week I bought some Japanese eggplant, which are longer and thinner than the traditional ones you see in the grocery store. I also think they are firmer in texture. Their skin is less dark than traditional eggplant and the flesh has a lovely pale green color.

I roasted 3 eggplants last night, 2 of which went into my dinner with the other one going into the fridge for weeknight meals. I've been trying to cook ahead as much as possible because my life has been so hectic lately. The semester started and I started teaching as well. My strategy is to cook portions of meals ahead, such as the eggplant, to make sure I have healthy food to turn to when I come home famished. So far, it seems like cooking several chicken breasts on Sunday night to eat for the next several days has been helpful. Also, casseroles such as this eggplant gratin cook several portions at once so that I can eat it for several days as well.

This particular recipe for eggplant gratin combines two different recipes. One of the recipes comes from the cookbook called The Silver Spoon, which is the bible of Italian cuisine. The other recipe comes from Ina Garten of the Food Network show Barefoot Contessa. The first recipes has a cheese and breadcrumb topping, whereas the second has a fluffy ricotta topping. I chose the ricotta because I love the idea of a browned cheesy topping.

Eggplant Gratin

1 lb (2 small) eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch round slices
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried)
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
non-stick cooking spray

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
2. To prepare the eggplant, brush the slices with the olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place them in the oven and roast them until they are tender and browned. Once they are done roasting, turn the heat of the oven to 400 degrees F.
3. Blend the ricotta, Parmesan, parsley, egg, and some salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
4. In a 1.5-quart casserole dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, add a thin layer of marinara. Top the marinara with a single layer of eggplant, then top those slices with a little more marinara. Create 3 layers total, finishing with sauce. Spread the cheese mixture evenly over top.
5. Cover the dish with foil or a lid and bake 30 minutes. Remove the lid, then turn on the broiler and broil the dish until the cheese is browned, about 5 minutes.

Servings per recipe: 4
Per serving:
Calories: 324
Fat: 19.1 g
Saturated fat: 7.2 g
Cholesterol: 79 mg
Sodium: 761 mg
Carbohydrates: 23.2 g
Fiber: 6.3 g
Sugar: 11.3 g
Protein: 16.1 g

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