Deborah Madison's Eggplant Gratin

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Recipe for Deborah Madison's Eggplant Gratin. Like a frittata, this pudding-gratin is good warm from the oven or at room temperature.


  • 2 1/2 pounds eggplant, peeled if white
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 4 large market eggs
  • 1 cup milk or light cream
  • 1 cup freshly ground Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 10 large basil leaves, torn into small pieces


  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly oil a 20 quart gratin dish. Cut the eggplants into rounds or slabs a scant 1/2 inch thick. Salt if you wish and set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. 2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick skillet, add the onions, and cook over medium heat, turning frequently, until soft and light gold, about 12 minutes. Scrape into a bowl. While the onion is cooking, beat the eggs with the milk; stir in the cheese, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon Salt, and some freshly ground pepper.
  3. 3. If you Salted it, rinse the eggplant, then wipe up the water with a towel. Heat the remaining oil in a skillet. When hot, add the eggplant and immediately turn it in the pan until it the eggplant is golden. This will take about 25 minutes in all, but you don't need to stand over the pan. This is a good window of time to make a quick tomato sauce for the dish or another part of the meal.
  4. 4. Season the eggplant with Salt and pepper to taste, and then toss with the onions and basil. Put it in the prepared dish and pour the custard over the top. Bake until golden, firm and puffed, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.