2 large eggplants (about 2 pounds)
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1½ pounds of tomatoes, cut into medium dice (or one 28 oz. can whole tomatoes cut in to chunks with juice)
½ cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
Sea or coarse salt & pepper
½ cup ricotta
1½ cup unflavored Greek yogurt
¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Cut the eggplant into ½ inch round slices, and place them on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle the slices with the coarse salt and let the eggplant sit for 30 minutes.
3. Wipe the slices with paper towels to remove the salt and moisture.
4. Brush one side of the slice lightly with olive oil.
5. Bake in a 350° F oven until soft, about 25- 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Increase the oven temperature to 450º F.
6. In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, heat 2T of olive oil and sauté the onion until slightly soft, about 4-6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes.
7. Add the tomatoes. Turn the heat up to “medium-high,” and cook until the tomatoes are soft and the liquid has reduced and thickened, about 6-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
8. In a small bowl, combine the egg, ricotta, yogurt and ½ cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Set aside.
9. Line a 9x11-inch baking dish with a single layer of the eggplant slices. Sprinkle with a little salt and 4-5 grinds of pepper. Sprinkle on half of the basil.
10. Spread the tomato mixture over the eggplant and sprinkle the remaining basil on top.
11. Cover the tomato mixture with the rest of the eggplant slices.
12. Spread the egg-cheese mixture evenly on top of the eggplant slices.
13. Sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top.
14. Bake for 10 minutes at 450º F. Reduce the oven temperature to 350º F and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, until hot and golden brown. If not brown enough, place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes.
15. Cool 20 minutes before serving.
TIPS & TRICKS
• Globe or Italian eggplants work best for this dish. They have a delicious and meaty texture to them. Look for eggplants that have smooth skin, are free from blemishes, and on the heavy side.
• I use Roma tomatoes. They have a thick, dense flesh and not too much liquid in them. You can substitute any tomatoes that look good and are in season. The cooking time might need to be increased to allow all of the liquid to reduce.
• Whole milk ricotta and whole milk unflavored Greek yogurt are so intensely rich and creamy, then the low fat varieties. They are life changing! Also, try to find ricotta and yogurt that have no additives added to them.
• I like to buy a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and grate it in my food processor. Let the cheese sit on you counter for 30 minutes. Cut it into 1-inch cubes, and then process it until finely ground. Store the grated cheese in a container in your fridge.
• The gratin can be assembled until step #7 the day ahead. Top with the cheese mixture and bake the day of. It is best served warmed. It makes a great light lunch with a salad. I just adore it cold or warmed up with a fried egg on top anytime!