Mini Eggplant Au Gratin {A Meatless Monday Recipe

Mini Eggplant Au Gratin {A Meatless Monday Recipe

A mini eggplant au gratin is the perfect portion-controlled Meatless Monday meal. The gratins are layered with warm soft eggplant smothered in a robust homemade tomato sauce with gooey melted cheese baked in perfect portions. One bite of this mini eggplant au gratin will make it an instant Meatless Monday favorite!

I’ll never forget the first time David and I tried eggplant. We were still living in our townhouse in Virginia Beach, grilling out in our little backyard. At that time, we really didn’t know what to do with eggplant, but we had seen a lot of the chefs on the Food Network cooking it and figured we’d give it a go.

We sliced the eggplant up put some salt and pepper on it and laid it on the grate of the grill to cook. After a flip and several minutes later, David took the eggplant slices up. He picked up the last slice off the grill and blew on it to cool it off enough to put it into his mouth. After he bit into the eggplant, his eyes got wide and then he spits the eggplant of his mouth into the yard!

“That is awful,” he said, “Taste it.”

I probably could have trusted him, but I didn’t understand why he didn’t like it. I took a bite of the eggplant and I spit it out too. That eggplant was disgusting!

As the eggplant laid upon the grate it absorbed the smoke from the grill. It had the texture of a sponge and tasted like liquid smoke. Gross!

A lot has happened since we first cooked eggplant in Virginia Beach. Since those days we have learned how to grill eggplant. I have made some pretty tasty recipes using eggplant. The recipe I am about to share with you is one of those recipes.

Let me show you how I made the mini eggplant gratins…

How To Make Mini Eggplant Au Gratin

Salt the Eggplant:

Wash the eggplant and slice it into ¼-inch slices, then toss the slices into a colander. Salt the eggplant generously, tossing the slices to ensure they are well coated with salt. Leave the eggplant in the strainer for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.  

Note: Salting the eggplant tightens and firms the flesh of the eggplant. This also helps remove some of the excess moisture that’s trapped inside and helps give the flesh a creamy texture. The salt also helps season the eggplant from the inside out. (Click HERE to find out more about salting eggplants)

Next, rinse the eggplant well and dry the slices in between layers of paper towels pressing firmly.

Bake The Eggplant Slices:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Brush both sides of eggplant slices with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil; place the slices on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake 8 minutes. Turn and bake until lightly browned and tender, about 7 to 8 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Prepare the tomato sauce: 

While the eggplant slices are baking make the sauce.

Add the olive oil, spices and tomato paste to a small saucepan. Allow the tomato paste to brown, but do not burn.

Stir in the tomato sauce and allow it to warm through. Remove from heat; set aside.

Prepare the Mini Eggplant Au Gratin:

Brush four 10-ounce ramekins with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and place onto a foil-lined baking sheet.

Put 1 tablespoon of sauce into the bottom of each ramekin.

Place one eggplant slice in each ramekin. Top each eggplant with about 2 tablespoons of the mozzarella cheese. Then cover with 2 tablespoons of the tomato sauce. Repeat the layers twice more, pressing down on the eggplant slices to squeeze as much of the air out in between as possible.

Top each au gratin with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.

Finish by adding the parmesan cheese on top and a dash of oregano on top of each au gratin.

Bake, uncovered, in the preheated 350-degree oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the gratins are bubbly and the cheese is melted.

Turn on the broiler to brown up the cheese for an additional 5 minutes, if desired.

Allow the mini eggplant au gratin dishes to cool about 10 to 20 minutes before serving, with fresh basil, if desired.

Notes:
Selecting an Eggplant: When selecting the eggplant ensure that it will fit into the ramekins. If the eggplant isn’t wide enough, just use 2 to 3 small slices to make up the layer.
Shortcut: Use your favorite marinara or tomato sauce if you have one you like better.

The mini eggplant au gratins were amazing and are even better the next day for lunch warmed in the microwave.

We love eggplant we just needed to know how to cook it. Always try things again or you just may miss out on something good. I hope if you have bad experiences with food that you don’t let it put a bad taste in your mouth forever.

This is an updated blog post from an original made on April 18, 2016.

Mini Eggplant Au Gratin

These mini eggplant au gratins are easy to make, eggplant layered with homemade tomato sauce and melted cheese baked in perfect portions.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian, Meatless Monday, Vegetarian
Keyword au gratin, eggplant, mini
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 338kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 small eggplants cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • 1 cup prepared tomato sauce (recipe to follow)
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • oregano for garnish, to taste (optional)
  • fresh basil for serving (optional)

Tomato Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 ounces tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce

Instructions

Salt the Eggplant:

  • Wash eggplant and slice it into ¼-inch slices, then toss the slices into a colander. Salt the eggplant generously, tossing the slices to ensure they are well coated with salt. Leave the eggplant in the strainer for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.  
    Next, rinse the eggplant well and dry the slices in between layers of paper towels pressing firmly.

Bake The Eggplant Slices:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
    Brush both sides of eggplant slices with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil; place the slices on an ungreased baking sheet.
    Bake 8 minutes. Turn and continue to bake until lightly browned and tender; about 7 to 8 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Make the Tomato Sauce: (Optional)

  • While the eggplant slices are baking make the sauce.
    Add the olive oil, spices and tomato paste to a small saucepan. Allow the tomato paste to brown, but do not burn.
    Stir in the tomato sauce and allow it to warm through. Remove from heat; set aside.

Prepare the Mini Eggplant Au Gratin

  • Brush four 10-ounce ramekins with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and place onto a foil-lined baking sheet.
    Put 1 tablespoon of sauce into the bottom of each ramekin.
    Place one eggplant slice in each ramekin. Top each eggplant with about 2 tablespoons of the mozzarella cheese. Then cover with 2 tablespoons of the tomato sauce. Repeat the layers twice more, pressing down on the eggplant slices to squeeze as much of the air out in between as possible.
    Top each au gratin with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.

    Finish by adding the parmesan cheese and a dash of oregano on top of each au gratin.
  • Bake, uncovered, in the preheated 350-degree oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the gratins are bubbly and the cheese is melted.
    Turn on the broiler to brown up the cheese for an additional 5 minutes, if desired.
    Allow the mini eggplant au gratin dishes to cool about 10 to 20 minutes before serving. Serve with fresh basil, if desired.

Notes

About Salting Eggplant: Salting the eggplant tightens and firms the flesh of the eggplant. This also helps remove some of the excess moisture that’s trapped inside and helps give the flesh a creamy texture. The salt also helps season the eggplant from the inside out. (Click HERE to find out about salting eggplants)
Selecting An Eggplant: When selecting the eggplant ensure that it will fit into the ramekins. If the eggplant isn’t wide enough, just use 2 to 3 small slices to make up the layer.
Tomato Sauce Shortcut: Use your favorite marinara or tomato sauce if you have one you’d like better.
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home Magazine

Nutrition

Calories: 338kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 1498mg | Potassium: 1627mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 1880IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 356mg | Iron: 4.2mg
Did you try this recipe? Tell us what you think!Give this recipe a star rating, leave a comment below and share pictures of your food with us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter! We can’t wait to see them! Don’t forget to mention @TheMountainKitchen or tag #TheMountainKitchen!
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The Mountain Kitchen

Hi, my name is Debbie, Author and Photographer at The Mountain Kitchen, a blog that shares delicious homemade recipes using clean food ingredients, and stories about mountain life.
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6 thoughts on “Mini Eggplant Au Gratin {A Meatless Monday Recipe”

  • Nice! You know I was sitting on the couch a couple of days ago, and I said to my bride,

    “Next time you’re at the store, why don’t you pick us up an egg plant.” Yup, that’s what I said. I meant it too.

    Then she said” You really want me to pick up an egg plant?”

    “Yup”, I croaked. “well that is if we can figure out something to do with an egg plant”

    “Well what do you do with egg plants?” she yammered.

    “I don’t know” I said.

    “Well then lets not get an egg plant then”, she said.

    “Yeah, let’s not” I croaked.

    After reading this, however, I think I’m ready to sit down and have the discussion again. Nice bit of inspiration!

    And hey to David…

    PotP

    • Ahhhh! Yes, you and your bride really should try eggplant! The trick is to salt them to draw out some of the moisture and the hint of bitterness they can sometimes have. Best of luck in your eggplant adventures! Thanks for telling me about your conversation. Now I’m gonna sit around and wait for your post! 🙂

  • These are so cute! My husband won’t eat eggplant, so when I make something similar to eggplant parmesan I just make it on my plate. But I love the idea of the individual dishes!

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