Thursday, August 14, 2008

Aubergine and courgette gratin

This gratin, simpler than this one or this one, was particularly delicious because of the quality of the ingredients, which came from a French market. The aubergine, with its rich and creamy flesh, made me realise that most of the ones I buy at home are poor relations.

Baking aubergine slices is the easiest way to cook them. But I usually saute courgettes, which need cooking only until the white flesh turns translucent -- they taste fresher that way. At home, I would have passed my tomato sauce through a vegetable mill; not having one here, I poured it through a sieve, stirring it through with a wooden spoon until only gunk remained. (Quite a bit of sauce needs to be scraped from the underside of the sieve.)

Serves 2.

1 aubergine
1 or 2 courgettes (mine was a large one -- normally large ones are dull, but this wasn't)
1 clove garlic
2 large tomatoes
Olive oil

Cut the aubergine into rounds the thickness of two £1 coins. Pour some olive oil into a saucer, and coat the aubergine slices with it using the back of the tines of a fork. Lay the slices on a baking sheet. Season with salt, and pepper if you like. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes at gas mark 6/200C, until soft.

Slice the courgette(s) thinly. In a little more olive oil, saute them on a medium heat. Salting them will encourage them to give up some of their liquid, which should evaporate.

Chop the garlic, and soften it in a little more olive oil. Roughly chop the tomatoes, and add them to the pan, again with a little salt. Simmer this sauce on a low to medium heat until thick. (The tomatoes will have broken down.) Pass it through a vegetable mill or sieve.

Mix the aubergines, courgettes and tomato sauce in a gratin dish (you could layer the ingredients if you like). Scatter a layer of breadcrumbs on top. Bake at gas mark 6/200C until the breadcrumbs have browned (about 15 minutes -- but keep checking). Serve hot, tepid, or at room temperature. (I like it tepid.)

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