It’s eggplant season, and that means this Provencal Eggplant Gratin is on repeat in my kitchen. This typical Southern French recipe includes tender slices of eggplants baked in-between layers of tomato sauce, spiked with Herbs de Provence and loads of Parmesan cheese. This is a fuss-free recipe that makes a great side or a perfect vegetarian dinner.
- When sourcing for eggplants, look for ones that are slightly firm, with a smooth skin and that feel heavy for their size. The stem is also a good indicator: it should be green. Sadly, a lot of eggplants I see in grocery stores have stems that are brown-ish or dried out.
- This is a fairly simple recipe, but it does require a bit of active time – especially the initial broiling of the eggplant slices. For this reason, this recipe may be best suited for weekends, rather than busy weeknights. Although the good news is that I think it tastes even better when made ahead and re-heated the next day (like a lot of gratins and saucy dishes do).
- Herbes de Provence is an essential ingredient in this recipe. It consists of a blend of dried herbs: savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme and oregano. You can find Herbs De Provence online, in spice shops, bulk stores, and sometimes in grocery stores in the spice aisle.
- I like to use a round cast iron skillet for this recipe (10.5 to 12.5-inch is ideal). It provides a nice caramelization around the edges of the gratin. But you can also use a classic gratin dish or casserole.
I hope you’ll love this Provençal Eggplant Tomato Gratin as much as I do! It makes a great vegetarian dinner or a perfect side to serve with grilled meat or fish.
You may also like:
- Eggplant Caviar Dip
- Classic Tomatoes Farcies (Baked Ground Meat Stuffed Tomatoes)
- Classic French-Style Potato Salad
- Provençal Chickpea Salad with Olives, Anchovies and Celery
- French-Style Couscous Salad
2lbs/900g Eggplants (about 2 medium), sliced widthwise into 1/4 inch-thick rounds, end slices discarded
½ cup (125ml) Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
3 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 (28 fl.oz/796ml) Can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp Herbs de Provence (+ extra for topping)
2-3 fresh basil leaves, chopped
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 garlic clove, peeled (for the dish)
1/2 cup (50g) grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp bread crumbs
Step 1 - Spread eggplant slices in one layer, sprinkle with salt (on both sides) and set aside for 45 minutes to allow the eggplants to “sweat” and loose their bitterness.
Step 2 - Pre-heat the broiler of your oven with a rack at the top. Pat eggplant dry and arrange slices in one single layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush slices generously with EVOO on both sides. Eggplants absorb a lot of oil, do not hesitate to be generous. Pass the baking sheet under the broiler for about 4 minutes, until the eggplant looks golden and slightly softened. Quickly flip eggplant slices and broil for 4 more minutes (watch closely during broiling, the eggplant can burn quickly.) Set the eggplant slices aside and repeat the process until all the eggplant is cooked (this usually takes me 3 baking sheets worth).
Turn the broiler off, and pre-heat your oven to 350F/180C with a rack in the middle.
Step 3 - In a medium sized sauce pan, over medium heat, heat up 1 tablespoon (15ml) of EVOO and cook onion and garlic for 5 minutes or until lightly caramelized. Add diced tomatoes, Herbs de Provence, basil, black pepper, salt and cook for about 20 minutes at a low simmer, until 1/3 of the liquid has dissolved and it looks much thicker.
Step 4 - Rub a gratin dish or skillet with a crushed garlic clove. Drizzle 1 tbsp of EVOO and rub to coat evenly. To assemble, arrange a layer of eggplant slices in overlapping rows at the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Cover with a third of the tomato sauce and a third of the Parmesan. Repeat this process twice, finishing with the last third of tomato sauce and Parmesan. Top with breadcrumbs, an extra sprinkle of Herbs de Provence and salt and pepper to taste.
Bake for 40 minutes. Finish with 2 minutes under the broiler to brown the top. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Did you make this recipe?