Eggplant Gratin with Saffron Custard


by: Gina2

Although I’m always cooking new dishes, this gratin is one I return to every summer. I'm especially fond of it covered with saffron-infused ricotta, at la the late Richard Olney, who influenced so many of today’s cooks and whose recipes are justifiably classics. It’s also lovely when the eggplant and fresh tomato sauce are simply layered with fresh mozzarella. But it can be made without any dairy at all—just succulent layers of eggplant and tomato with an accent of torn basil leaves.


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serves: 4-6

Fast, Fresh or Long-Cooked Tomato Sauce (made with at least 2 pounds ripe tomatoes)

2 1/2 pounds medium oblong eggplants, Asian or Italian varieties

olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

several basil (large leaves torn)

2 eggs

1 cup ricotta cheese

3/4 cup milk

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 pinches of saffron threads (soaked in a few tablespoons near-boiling water)

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese, grated Gruyere, or mozzarella (optional)

Nutrition Facts
Eggplant Gratin with Saffron Custard

Servings Per Recipe: 4

Amount per Serving

Calories: 425

  • Total Fat: 21.6 g
  •     Saturated Fat: 12.2 g
  •     Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 148.8 mg
  • Sodium: 1823.4 mg
  • Total Carbs: 36.1 g
  •     Dietary Fiber: 13.9 g
  •     Sugars: 21.2 g
  • Protein: 27.4 g

how is this calculated?

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1.  Start the tomato sauce, then preheat the broiler. Lightly oil a 2-quart (or 8- by 10-inch) gratin dish. Once you’ve got the sauce going, remove bands of the skin from the eggplants with a vegetable peeler, leaving narrow strips of skin attached. Slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch rounds or ovals. Salt them if you think they need it (see headnote). Lightly brush or spray each slice with olive oil, set on a sheet pan, and broil until golden, about 12 minutes. Broil the second side about 12 minutes, then season lightly with salt and pepper.

2.  When the sauce is ready, set the oven at 375°F. Spread a scant third of the tomato sauce in the prepared gratin dish. Make an overlapping layer of half the eggplant and shower it with some of the basil. Add a little more tomato sauce, basil, and the rest of the eggplant. Spoon the remainder of the sauce between the slices of eggplant without covering them completely.

3.  Whisk the eggs with the ricotta, milk, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in the soaked saffron threads followed by the cheeses. Season with pepper. Pour this custard over the gratin and bake until golden and puffed, about 35 minutes.

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