Melanzana Gratinate con Spaghettini e Aglio Olio
I absolutely love eggplant! This eggplant gratinate is SO delicious…like an eggplant lasagna or parmigiana but simpler. It would be a great vegetable alternative for a main meal. Or it is just as good served as a side dish.
This recipe is prepared as a main dish served atop or alongside Spaghettini Aglio Olio.
Tip: Not sure what to do with extra eggplant during harvest? To make this a quick weeknight meal, make your eggplant ahead and freeze until ready to use. Just pan fry it and let it drain and cool on paper towels, then put in a shallow container and freeze. Be sure to put parchment or wax paper between the sliced layers for the best results when thawing. I also do this when, on rare occasion, our local store has a reduced price on eggplant out of season.
Prep time for Eggplant Gratinate: 45 minutes
- Olive oil for frying
- 1 large eggplant, unpeeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup half-and-half
- 1/2 cup plus 2-4 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 cup prepared marinara or homemade sauce (I use my homemade tomato sauce for this)
- Salt, pepper, basil, oregano, thyme – quanto basta (as much as needed; to taste)
Put 1/8 inch of olive oil in the bottom of a large frying pan over medium heat. When oil is hot, add several slices of eggplant. Cook until brown on one side (approx. 2-3 minutes). Turn and finish browning another 2-3 minutes. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. You may need to add more oil to the pan before frying the next slices. Fry all slices of eggplant.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
While the oven is heating – in a small bowl – mix together the ricotta, egg, half-and-half, 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt, pepper and other herbs.
In a large baking dish (or 4 small individual dishes), layer the ingredients:
Put a layer of eggplant on the bottom.
Sprinkle with some of the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Cover layer with a couple of teaspoons of marinara.
Cover marinara with a layer of the ricotta mixture.
Repeat with one more layer and top the ricotta with the last of the Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Bake eggplant gratinate for 25-30 minutes until set and top is browned.
eggplant gratinate plated image
If you are going to serve eggplant gratinate as a main dish, the recipe for the Spaghettini with Garlic and Oil (Spaghettini con aglio olio) follows.
Prep time: 15 minutes
- 1/2 pound spaghettini*
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 10 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more if you like it hot!)
- 1/2 cup fresh, chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, optional
- Salt and pepper quanto basta (as much as needed; to taste)
*Spaghettini is somewhere between cappellini and spaghetti in thickness; any long pasta will work. You may need to adjust portion a bit if you use a thicker version.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Stir in spaghettini. Cook until pasta is al dente (still a bit firm).
While pasta is cooking, heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium low heat.
Add the garlic and cook until pale golden shaking pan so garlic does not burn.
Remove from heat and add red pepper flakes.
Ladle 1 cup of the pasta water into the flavored oil.
Add the parsley, salt, pepper, and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Drain the pasta and put into the pan with the flavored oil. Toss to coat pasta.
Cook until is fully coated, 1-3 minutes.
Remove from heat and sprinkle with cheese if desired. Add additional red pepper, salt and pepper to taste.