Friday, September 25, 2015

Eggplant Gratin with Herbs and Crème Fraîche

I don't know about you, but some of the food I prepare is a result of what's about to near its expiration  date.  In this case, it was a container of crème fraîche in the fridge. It was a brand new package and I couldn't bear to throw it out unopened. Yet I was leaving for a trip and knew if I didn't use it before I left, it would be wasted. 

Remembering a recipe I had seen a while back that involved eggplants and crème fraîche. I had to give it a try. It did not disappoint. This recipe contains parmesan, but it's not eggplant parmesan. The crème fraîche turns it into a creamy gratin and it's a nice change from the classic dish. It's a great recipe to prepare ahead of time and even freeze for the future.

Slice the eggplant and smear both sides with some olive oil.

Place on the grill when it becomes hot, and grill the slices until there are nice grill marks and the eggplants are cooked through.

Make the cream sauce using the crème fraîche and the herbs.

Assemble the gratin, alternating eggplant slices, tomato sauce, and parmesan cheese.

                                       Pour the creamy herb sauce over everything.

             Finish by sprinkling extra parmesan on top, and bake in the oven for an hour at 375 degrees.

Sit down to a delicious dinner.

Eggplant Gratin with Herbs and Creme Fraiche

2 medium to large eggplant, sliced 1/2″ thick

salt & pepper

olive oil

3 Tbs. minced chives

3 Tbs. minced parsley

1 Tbs. thyme leaves

12 oz. creme fraiche or heavy cream

4 oz parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375.  Season eggplant slices with salt and pepper.  Brush lightly with olive oil.  Heat a large skillet or griddle pan over med-high heat and fry eggplant slices in batches until golden on both sides.  Set aside while you prepare the creme fraiche.  Place creme fraiche or cream in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Reduce to about 1 cup, then stir in half of the grated parmesan and all of the chopped herbs.  Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside.  Oil a 9″ casserole or gratin pan and place eggplant inside in a single layer.  Cover with a thin layer of simple tomato sauce and a sprinkle of parmesan.  Make two more layers of eggplant and sauce, covering the top with tomato sauce.  Ladle over the reduced creme fraiche or cream and sprinkle on a final layer of parmesan cheese.  Bake uncovered until browned and bubbling, about 25-30 minutes.  Let rest briefly before serving.  Also delicious at room temperature.

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