End of Summer Vegetable Gratin
1 large or 2 medium eggplant (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2-3 medium zucchini (about 1 pound)
2 large white onions
4 large or 6 medium-to-small fresh tomatoes
1/4 c. breadcrumbs
1/4 c. parmesan
4 1/2 T. olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1/2 c. fresh thyme, parsley and basil
salt and pepper
Halve onions and thinly slice them. Put them in a large heavy-bottomed pan and cook over low heat in 1 T. olive oil until soft but not browned. Season with salt. While onions are cooking, slice eggplant and zucchini into 1/4" rounds by hand or with a mandolin. Lightly oil two sheet pans with 1/2 T. olive oil each and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay eggplant slices on one pan and zucchini on the other until you have used all the vegetables. It is fine to let the slices overlap or have more than one layer in a pan. Cook at 375 degrees until softened, about 15 minutes. Thinly slice the tomatoes and set aside. Mince garlic and herbs and combine (by hand or in food processor).
Coat a 9x13" baking dish with 1/2 T. olive oil. Layer the eggplant over bottom of baking dish. Cover with all the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Lay half the tomato slices over the onions. Sprinkle garlic-herb mixture over tomatoes. Layer zucchini, then remaining tomatoes. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Season with more salt and pepper and drizzle with 2 T. olive oil.
Bake at 325 degrees until brown and bubbly. Serve on its own, with crusty bread or over pasta.
Serves 8 generously.
Variation: Sprinkle 2 t. cumin and 1/2 t. cinnamon in with the onions. Serve over cous cous.
Inspired by: Roger Verge's Vegetables in the French Style by Roger Vergé and Martine Anglade.
This recipe totally meets my infinitely customizable criteria in that the eggplant and zucchini can be replaced by just eggplant (as the recipe originally calls for) or just zucchini. Change the spice profile and you completely change the dish. Add in some cumin and cinnamon and you are veering into Middle Eastern territory, enhance the french flavors here with even more herbs, or easily make it a riff on eggplant parmesan with the addition of fresh basil.