Eggplants, at the peak of freshness during late-summer, shine in this delicious side dish.
Serves: 4 to 6
- 2 medium to large eggplant, sliced ½ inch thick
- Kosher salt, for sprinkling
- 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
- ½ cup sour cream
- 4 tablespoons minced fresh chives, divided
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, divided
- 4 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano, divided
- 4 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
- 2 cups prepared marinara sauce
- Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels. Arrange eggplant slices in an even layer on paper towels; sprinkle both sides with salt. Place a second layer of paper towels on top of eggplant; place a heavy cutting board or a stack of baking sheets on top of eggplant to press out excess water. Let stand for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375°. Spray a 1-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Line another large rimmed baking sheet with paper towels.
- Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add eggplant slices in batches; cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Place on pan with dry paper towels; press with additional paper towels to remove excess moisture.
- In a medium bowl, stir together ½ cup cheese, sour cream, 3 tablespoons chives, 1 tablespoon basil, 3 teaspoons oregano, and 3 teaspoons thyme.
- In prepared baking dish, spread about ¼ cup marinara sauce. Top with a single layer of eggplant slices. Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce onto eggplant; spread a thin layer of sour cream mixture onto marinara. Beginning with eggplant, repeat layers to use all eggplant, marinara, and sour cream mixture. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup cheese.
- Bake until hot and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Increase oven temperature to broil. Broil until top is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon chives, remaining 1 tablespoon basil, remaining 1 teaspoon oregano, and remaining 1 teaspoon thyme. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Kitchen Tip: Do not skip steps 1 and 3 of this recipe. Salting the eggplant removes excess moisture that would otherwise make your gratin very watery, and searing the eggplant par-cooks it, which shortens the bake time of the casserole.