I just love the name "Aubergine." It sounds fancier than "Eggplant." This eggplant gratin is highly nutritious, delicious, and super easy to make for the summer and fall months. The tender vegetable layered with sauce, cheese, and herbs is incredibly satisfying for those days you may want something hearty yet healthy. The dish can also be made vegan if the cheese is substituted for vegan versions.
Aubergines belong to the Solanaceae family and are known for their distinctive egg-like shape and vibrant colors, which can range from deep purple to white, green, or even variegated shades.
The flavor of aubergines is often described as mild and slightly earthy, with a somewhat creamy texture when cooked. They have a sponge-like quality that allows them to absorb flavors and sauces during cooking. Since marinara sauce is used to create this dish, the eggplant graciously soaks in the flavor of the sauce and herbs.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Easy to make
- 9 wholesome ingredients
- Healthy and flavorful
- Light enough for the summer, but still hearty enough for fall
- Pairs well with garlic bread
This season, I was able to obtain homegrown aurbergines (eggplants) from another gardening friend. Her eggplants were juicier with thicker skins, which added a unique texture to the gratin. However, thicker skins are not for everyone, so feel free to use whatever variety of eggplant is best suited for your taste.
According to The Spruce Eats, the most delicate and least bitter eggplant is the Rosa Bianca Eggplant. They are teardrop or pumpkin shaped with beautiful violet and white streaks. They also have fewer seeds if you are not a fan of them. Unfortunately, these are not readily available, so you may have to grow them yourself or check with your local farmer’s market. For this recipe, I used the standard, readily available Globe Eggplant.
When selecting aubergines for cooking, look for ones that are firm, glossy, and without blemishes or wrinkles. Prior to cooking, aubergines are often salted and allowed to sit to remove excess moisture and reduce bitterness.
If time permits, make some homemade Marinara Sauce in advance to deepen the flavor of the gratin.
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Special Tools and Equipment
10×10 Baking Dish
- 2 eggplants (aubergines)
- 1 zucchini
- 1 russet potato
- 24 oz (680g) marinara sauce
- 80 oz (227g) fresh mozzarella
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup (60g) grated parmesan
- 3 tbsp fresh Italian seasoning, or 2 tbsp dry Italian seasoning
- optional 5 pepperoncini, sliced
Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
Slice the eggplants and zucchini lengthwise. Slice the potato as thinly as you can.
In a 10×10 inch dish or 10 inch pie dish, layer everything as follows: sauce, vegetables, salt and pepper, cheese. Repeat.
Top with a final layer of sauce, breadcrumbs, cheese, and herbs.
Season with salt and pepper. Bake the casserole for 1 hour.
Allow the dish to cool for 15 minutes before serving.