On a decidedly more upbeat note after yesterday’s post, today we are again talking about Paris. More specifically, Parisian cuisine. Ever since I came back from my trip to the world’s most beautiful city a few summers back, I have been longing to bring some French elegance into my tri-state area kitchen. Well, my opportunity finally arrived by way of Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook, which I received as a gift for Christmas. For those of you who are not familiar with this book, I highly recommend it to anyone interested in French cuisine or just cooking in general: It’s jam packed with dozens of traditional French recipes with a Barefoot Contessa twist. Without running on, all I can say is buy it, and you’ll be thanking me later. 😉
…Anyway, for my first Barefoot in Paris dish, I decided on the eggplant gratin. I’ve only recently come to enjoy eggplant, and the meal looked like a fun take on the vegetable. In case you were wondering, a gratin is what I would call France’s answer to an Italian lasagna. Traditionally it includes a single key ingredient (potatoes, for example) sliced, layered, and topped with breadcrumbs, cheese, and even butter. Ina’s version, however, omits the breadcrumbs and butter, resulting in a lighter take on this classic meal.
As for cooking the eggplant gratin, the process is far simpler than you probably imagine when you hear “French food”. Something Ina Garten does so wonderfully in this book is make the recipes as streamlined a possible. This recipe in particular was just nine ingredients total: olive oil, eggplant, ricotta cheese, half-and-half, some Parmesan, salt and pepper, and finally good-quality bottled marinara sauce. And as for the actual “cooking” part (that has to get done sometime, right?), there was nothing super-complex that came along with this dish, mainly just a lot of slicing, frying, layering, and repeating!
I could probably go on and on about how this meal tasted, but for your sake I’m going to keep it brief: the eggplant gratin was pillowy, much lighter than I expected (who doesn’t love that?), and savory. The friend eggplant slices mingled beautifully with the marinara sauce and cheese, evoking a lasagna-but-not-lasagna mood. We enjoyed it with some crisp baby kale on the side, and it was the perfect way to spend a chilly night in!
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed bringing some Parisian flair into my kitchen, and am excited to try the rest of the recipes!
Would you ever experiment with foreign cuisine? I’m interested to know your thought…sound off below!