This creamy and scrumptious Eggplant Gratin is smothered with a secret white sauce and topped with a generous layer or Gruyere cheese. It is a side dish that is so easy to make and will be gone before you know it.
If you ever ask me what my favorite vegetable is, eggplant would be one of my top choices.
I have tried so many recipes with eggplant and I seriously can’t get enough of this meaty vegetable.
In Ukraine, where I grew up, eggplants are crazy popular. We used to grow eggplants and as soon as they were ready to be picked, we loved incorporating them in appetizers, stews and make so popular in Ukraine and other post-Soviet countries Eggplant Caviar.
Because of eggplant’s thicker consistency, it can easily be used in a variety of vegetarian dishes as a great substitute for meat.
In fact, some time ago, I made eggplant meatballs and my meat-lover husband couldn’t even tell they were vegetarian.
Recently, I made an awesome side dish – Eggplant Gratin. It has a French origin and you know that I’m obsessed with French cuisine.
I first made Eggplant Au Gratin for my husband’s birthday and everyone absolutely loved it.
As a matter of fact, what not love? Prebaked eggplant slices are layered with a rich tomato sauce, some basil leaves, drizzled with my secret creamy Feta cheese sauce and topped with Gruyere. Then everything is baked until bubbly perfection.
Believe me, this Aubergine Gratin (how they call it in England) goes really fast. You can make it for holidays or at other times throughout the year.
So much flavor and just like my new favorite French Chicken Gratin (have you had a chance to try it yet?), this Eggplant Gratin is a total comfort food.
So What Is Gratin
Gratin is a special culinary technique which originated in France.
According to the sources, gratin means that the recipe is usually prepared in the oven or finished under the broiler so that a crispy crust was formed.
For the luscious crispy topping breadcrumbs and/or cheese are used.
Gratins are usually prepared in a shallow baking dish.
Nowadays, cooking Au Gratin became a very popular technique.
And beside well-known Scalloped Potatoes or my new favorite Potato and Zucchini Gratin, cooks around the world started to use this method to prepare meat, seafood and all kinds of different vegetables.
When I made this Eggplant Gratin recipe for the first time, I decided to fry the eggplants.
And although the final result came out really delicious, but it also was a bit unhealthy.
See, eggplant loves oil and it soaks it up like a sponge. So for frying individual slices of eggplant, I had to use quite a bit of oil.
In addition, it added to the total preparation time. And if you’re just like me and love you recipes to be cooked faster, frying in batches is not a preferred way of cooking.
When I cooked the dish the second time around, I prebaked the eggplants until it’s tender.
And while it was baking, I quickly made my delicious secret white sauce.
So what is my secret white sauce is made of?
- Half and half
- Creme Fraîche
- Feta cheese
- a few herbs
If you’ve never cooked with Creme Fraîche before, I highly recommend you to try it. It had a very rich and creamy taste. A little tart and somewhat resembling the sour cream.
Creme Fraîche is very popular in French cuisine and is used both in hot and cold recipes.
I personally like to use Creme Fraîche as a base for my Mustard Chicken sauce as well as a topping for desserts.
If you can’t find Creme Fraîche in your local grocery store, not a problem. Just mix regular cream and sour cream in equal proportions.
Should You Peel Eggplant?
It depends. If you have an older and bigger eggplant, the skin can be a little tough so it’s okay to peel it before cooking.
But if you’re using small and young eggplants, you can leave the skin on.
If you love this Eggplant Gratin, here are some of my similar favorite recipes:
If you’re looking for new side dish recipes with fresh eggplants, try my Eggplant Gratin and you’ll be surprised how good it tastes. Rich, creamy and super comforting.
If you make my Eggplant Au Gratin, snap a picture and post it on Instagram with a hashtag #lavenderandmacarons.
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Eggplant Gratin With Feta Cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375 F.
- Place sliced eggplant on a parchment lined baking pan (you might need to use 2 pans). Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper and brush with olive oil.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until eggplant is tender.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine Crème fraîche, half and half and Feta cheese. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Stir in thyme and chives and set aside.
- In 2.5-quart baking dish or gratin dish spread tomato sauce to cover the bottom. Place eggplant slices. They can slightly overlap each other. Spread tomato sauce once again and sprinkle with ¼ cup of Gruyere cheese. Scatter 1-2 torn basil leaves over the sauce.
- Continue layering with remaining eggplant, sauce and basil. Finish with pouring over the cream and Feta sauce and sprinkling with the remaining Gruyere cheese.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbly and the top is browned. Serve warm.