Guest Blogger: Amanda and Logan make Heirloom Tomato and Eggplant Gratin - Sweet Potato Chronicles

Guest Blogger: Amanda and Logan make Heirloom Tomato and Eggplant Gratin

My sister-in-law Amanda is a chef. I know. I know. Why has it taken me this long to get her to cre­ate  a recipe espe­cially for SPC? It was just that she's always seemed so swamped. I've had to be care­ful about ask­ing. Here's how our phone con­ver­sa­tions would usu­ally go. "Hi, Amanda. It's me. Oh, you're in the mid­dle of mak­ing 90 mil­lion stocks and duck con­fit tacos. Ok, nev­er­mind."  But I finally nailed her down this sum­mer. The New Eng­land States were being bat­tered by Hur­ri­cane Irene and she was stuck in the house. With a zil­lion toma­toes she res­cued out of her gar­den before the storm and a sur­plus of egg­plant lying around, she decided to craft this dish. (Obvi­ously a chef has a bunch of egg­plant around. Me? I have head­less gold­fish crack­ers lit­ter­ing my kitchen coun­ters.) Thank­fully, she com­pleted the gratin before she lost power.

A fan of every­thing tomato-y (think cap­rese salad and bruschetta), Amanda wanted to make toma­toes the star in the gratin. She lay­ered them with the egg­plant and three dif­fer­ent cheeses since "any­thing with cheese is a friend of mine," Amanda explains. Despite hav­ing her same feel­ings about cheese, I like the way the dish also comes off look­ing like a lasagna, mak­ing it more appeal­ing to kids. Although Logan, Amanda's 11 year old son, had already given it the kid stamp of approval. A cook­ing school grad­u­ate him­self, Logan enjoys being in the kitchen, has a great eye for plat­ing and, accord­ing to mom, makes a mean lemon meringue pie. How­ever, he has the most fun with their mini fryer mak­ing donuts. "Once I even bought some pre-made won­tons  and spring roll wrap­per,  I made all the fill­ings and placed them in lit­tle bowls. We just sat around the din­ing room table fill­ing our own won­tons and spring rolls.  It was so much fun and deli­cious," said Amanda. Donuts and home­made spring rolls? I'm in.

Heir­loom Tomato and Egg­plant Gratin

3 medium egg­plant, thinly sliced
8 – 10 large heir­loom toma­toes, var­i­ous col­ors, thinly sliced
3 large onions, thinly sliced
4 small shal­lots, thinly sliced
4 large gar­lic cloves, finely minced
¼ cups olive oil
2 table­spoons but­ter
2 cups shred­ded ched­dar cheese
8 oz crum­bled goat cheese
2 cups shred­ded parme­san cheese
1 cup basil, finely minced
¼ cup oregano, finely minced
¼ cup thyme, finely minced
1 ½ c Bread­crumbs (recipe fol­lows)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

 Method

Sprin­kle egg­plant slices lightly with salt, layer between paper tow­els, and sweat for at least an hour.  Layer tomato slices between paper tow­els and drain for at least an hour.

In the mean­time, in a large skil­let over medium heat caramelize the onions, shal­lots, and gar­lic in olive oil and but­ter until a deep golden brown.

Rinse and dry egg­plant.  Lightly spray two cookie sheets with cook­ing spray.  Place egg­plant in a sin­gle layer and lightly spray the tops with cook­ing spray.  Roast for 10 mins in a 450 oven.  Let cool.

Toss together the herbs.

Lightly spray a 14 x 10 x 2 pan with cook­ing spray, add the caramelized onions, shal­lots, and gar­lic.  Spread evenly across the bot­tom.  Very lightly sea­son with kosher salt and black pep­per.  Lightly sprin­kle with herbs and then with the shred­ded cheddar. Layer with toma­toes.  Over­lap the tops/bottoms and sides.  Very lightly sea­son with kosher salt and pep­per.   Lightly sprin­kle with herbs.  Add a layer of crum­bled goat cheese.

Layer with egg­plant.  Over­lap the tops/bottoms and sides.  Very lightly sea­son with kosher salt and pep­per.  Sprin­kle with herbs.  Sprin­kle with shred­ded parme­san cheese. Layer again with toma­toes.  Over­lap the tops/bottoms and sides.  Very lightly sea­son with kosher salt & pep­per.   Lightly sprin­kle with herbs.  Add a layer of shred­ded ched­dar cheese.

Sprin­kle top with bread­crumbs & shred­ded parme­san cheese.

Bake at 350  until sides are bub­bly and top is golden brown.  Allow to rest 15 mins before serv­ing. You'll notice there will be a lot of water in the pan. Not to worry, it's from the tomatoes.

Bread­crumbs

 8 – ½ “  thick Ital­ian bread
Extra Vir­gin Olive Oil
Kosher salt  and freshly ground pep­per
Gran­u­lated gar­lic powder

Heat oven to 325.  Driz­zle bread with oil, sprin­kle lightly with salt, pep­per and gar­lic pow­der.  Bake until bread is very crisp.  Allow to com­pletely cool.  Place in a zip top bag.  With the smooth side of a kitchen mal­let, pound until coarse consistency.

This dish is per­fect a Sun­day fam­ily din­ner. Accord­ing to Amanda, it can really "be the meal along­side a light salad and fresh bread." How­ever, you could serve it with "some grilled salmon or shrimp." Either way, you're guar­an­teed left­overs and that always means din­ner the next night too.

Now, we just need to get Amanda to give us that donut recipe. A healthy ver­sion, of course.

  

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