This has become a huge favorite of mine. Why? Same as most of my favorites: easy, quick to throw together after a little prep, and terribly good. This is the eggplant dish for even the most avowed eggplant hater, such as my close friend Adam, who remarked as he scarfed down two servings, ‘I hate eggplant but if I have to eat it, this is how I want to eat it.” While it is a great side, you can serve it as a vegetarian entree, with a crisp garlicky salad, as pictured.
2 large eggplants
4 cloves garlic, in slivers
fresh thyme leaves (quite a bit)
heavy cream / whipping cream
– Clean the eggplants and cut them into slices, about ¼ inch thick. You can do these in rounds or vertically, depending on the shape of the dish you will use to cook them.
– Toss the eggplant slices with a good sprinkling of salt and let sit in a colander for 30 minutes or more so they let loose some liquid.
– As they sit, cook your onions: Halve them, then slice them rather thin. Slow sauté the onions in olive oil, salt and pepper, until they get light brown and soft. Add thyme and the garlic as they get soft, tossing.
– Place all of the onion and thyme mixture in the bottom of your gratin dish. (A 9 x 13 pyrex works very well if you don’t have something ‘fancier’)
– Dry well your eggplant slices.
– Over the onions and thyme mixture: place one layer of eggplant slices, then season with salt and pepper, then scatter on some thyme, then scatter on some parmesan. Keep doing layers, at least three, until you are a half-inch or so under the edge of the roasting pan. Press it all down.
– Pour cream over the dish, enough that it comes close to the top. Scatter thyme, salt and pepper and parmesan over the top.
– Bake 30 or 45 minutes at 350.
In addition to the recipe, my own interpretation of Slater’s, you can layer in a really good marinara and you have a lighter version of Eggplant Parmesan, without the trouble of frying the eggplant. Crumbled Italian sausage, quickly sautéed and layered with the marinara, would make this a hearty entree.