Friday, September 20, 2013

Eggplant, Tomato and Zucchini Gratin with Parsley Breadcrumbs

I have tried writing about coming home for the last four weeks, unsuccessful as you can see. But we are back, and I am cooking again. It is good to be back after such a long hiatus. I might write about the rest of our trip on a later date and maybe about coming home, but right now I don't find the words and prefer to enjoy the moment instead of looking back.

I was so happy not to have missed all of summer's vegetable bounty. When we returned, tomatoes were just getting really juicy and sweet and lovely sprinkled with a little salt and the olive oil we brought back from Italy back in spring. And since we've been back in our apartment, we've had a bowl full of San Marzano tomatoes on our kitchen table. Ready to be eaten. Ready to be cooked down into a simple, garlicky tomato sauce. We made a lasagne with fresh tomatoes (which actually turned out dry, sorry mum) and today I made this gratin I found in Vegetable Literacy, a cookbook I bought just before leaving for Bolivia and haven't actually used it much since then (for obvious reasons).
Like Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty, Vegetable Literacy is divided into chapters according to vegetable family, which is very helpful when you find yourself with an abundace of summer squash, green beans or run out of inspiration in the middle of winter on how to use carrots or cabbage. And considering the fact that the gratin I made today turned out wonderfully, I think I am going to cook from this cookbook quite a few times in the future.

The recipe for the gratin can be divided into two parts, first you make a rataouille of sorts, cooking the eggplant and tomatoes into a thick stew while lightly steaming the zucchini slices that Deborah Madison makes you place on top of the sauce, keeping them from falling apart.
Then you scatter breadcrumbs over the ratatouille and after 25 minutes in the oven soft pieces of eggplant and tomato and zucchini with a herby crunchy topping emerge.

Eggplant, Tomato and Zucchini Gratin with Parsley Breadcrumbs
Adapted from a recipe in Vegetable Literacy, by Deborah Madison
Note: Deborah Madison has you top the ratatouille with slices of mozzarella, which in my opinion, does not much for the dish itsself, so next time I would omit the mozzarella and maybe stir in some parmesan with the breadcrumbs or keep this as is.

for the ratatouille
1 eggplant, quartered lengthwise and cut into slices
2 onions, cut into thin wedges
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried rosemary
4 San Marzano tomatoes (or 5-6 of regular round tomatoes), cut into dice sized pieces
2 smallish zucchinis, cut into slices the same width as the eggplant
salt and pepper
2 tbsp tomato paste

for the topping
1 clove of garlic
a bunch of parsley
1 cup breadcrumbs
3 tbsp olive oil

Before preparing the other vegetables, slice the eggplant and lightly salt the slices. After prepping everything else, dab the excess moisture off of the slices.
Preheat the oven to 375°F/200°C.
In a skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Sauté the onion until translucent and fragrant, then add the dried herbs and garlic and let cook for another minute or so. Then stir in the eggplant and tomatoes and sauté a minute or two before turning down the heat. Place the zucchini slices on top of the eggplant and tomato stew, cover the skillet and let cook, on low heat, for 20 minutes or so.
While the ratatouille cooks, prepare the topping. Putthe garlic and parsley into the bowl of a small food processor and give it a whiz until cut into smallish pieces, then add the breadcrumbs and pulse until the breadcrumbs are mostly green. Stir in the olive oil and set aside.
With two spoons remove the stew from the skillet into a baking dish and mix in the tomato paste with the liquid that remains in the skillet. Add this liquid to the ratatouille. Top everything off with the green breadcrumbs and bake for 25 minutes.

Serves 4.


  1. Those green green breadcrumbs are making me salivate! So herbaceous... :)

  2. I know what you mean about not finding the words to explain something, especially after it's over. I say just go with what you're feeling. It's always better that way. (wecome back, nonetheless!!)

    And thanks for sharing this - it looks so good. Very fitting for late summer. I second Eileen, too: those herbed breadcrumbs are making me hungry!

  3. I love ratatouille, it's one of my favorite dishes. I've never tried it with a crusty herb topping but now I have to! This looks so mouth-watering!

  4. Lena, glad to have you back!

    The ratatouille sounds really lovely. Those breadcrumbs do look very tempting. I don't know if there will be eggplant and zucchini at the markets around here this weekend (what happened to summer?), but I'm pretty sure that I can find another use for parsley breadcrumbs!