Eggplant, Tomato and Onion Gratin
Asian eggplants are slender and elongated. The Japanese variety is dark purple while a Chinese variety, Asian Bride, is pale lavender. Roasting, baking or grilling eggplant before adding it to a sauté keeps it from getting too oily.
1. Preheat oven to 400F. In large skillet over medium heat, sauté onions, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper in half the butter and half the oil until soft, about 4 minutes. Remove bay leaf from onion mixture.
2. Grease shallow baking dish with remaining butter. Spread onion mixture over bottom of dish. Cover with overlapping rows of alternate eggplant and tomato slices. Each slice should cover 2/3 of the preceding one. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with remaining oil.
3. Cover and bake until eggplant is soft enough to cut with a spoon, about 45 minutes. Uncover for last 15 minutes or earlier if tomatoes are giving up too much liquid. Brush or spoon juices over top occasionally to prevent top layer from drying out. The gratin should be moist but not watery.