Mar 17, 2010

Melanzane al gratin - Eggplant crumble recipe

I wonder why some call it eggplant. It's more pear-shaped than egg. Eggplants are purple, lightweight and shiny; eggs–whether pink or white–are neither. I must admit (reluctantly) that the borrowed French name aubergine sounds so much better.

Creamy lush aubergines tucked away under a blanket of crunch: my savory Mediterranean twist on a British classic is melanzane al gratin, a sort of savory eggplant crumble.

Ingredients for 6

3 purple eggplant
2 white onions
150 g (3/4 cup) Parmigiano, grated
150 g (3/4 cup) very cold butter, possibly salted
150 g (3/4 cup) unbleached flour
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180° C (356° F - mark 6).

Wash the eggplant under running water and dry them accurately.

Cut crosswise into slices 1/2-inch thick. Make a layer of these in a sieve and sprinkle with salt. Continue layering and sprinkling with salt until all of the slices are used. Top with a plate and a heavy weight, like a pot.

Place the sieve over a bowl or in the sink. Let this stand for 1 hour to drain off the bitter juices. Rinse off the salt and dry the eggplant slices with paper towels.

Addendum: Salting the eggplant slices draws out their bitter juices. If the eggplant is very fresh, this step is not essential, but if you are unsure about their provenance, it's a good habit against a disappointing dish. 

Dice the leached eggplant slices and do the same with the onions. Pour them in a fairly high-rimmed baking pan with the oil and vinegar, season with salt and pepper and mix to coat well.

Cut the butter in flecks and work into the flour and grated Parmigiano cheese with your hands. The warmth of your blood will sensually melt the butter and allow it to absorb the powdery textures into a coarse crumbly blob. Don't get too carried away doing this or it will turn too creamy and not serve its purpose.

Sprinkle the obtained crumble in one uniform layer over the dressed veggies in the baking pan.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the topping appears golden and crisp. Check often, as cheese tends to brown suddenly. Should this happen soon before the cooking time has elapsed, lower the temperature to 150° C (300° F - mark 5) and wait. On the contrary, should 35 minutes into baking not show any signs of golden hues on the crumble, raise the heat to 210° C (410° F - mark 7) while you slip into something more comfortable.

Let the crumble cool 5 minutes before serving.
Image © Sunfox


  1. Sweet greetings from Frog Hollow Farm. This recipe sounds yummy, Ina Garten also has a good recipe for eggplant (I agree that aubergine is a much classier name). I haven't had any problems reading your recipes, this format looks fine. Ciao, Bella!

  2. Oh, wow, this sounds so yummy!! Daniel and I practically live on baba ganoush all summer long. We love aubergines and just planted a few of them in our garden!! Will have to try this recipe... Hope you are doing well!! Hugs, Silke

  3. Yummy once again. I just had that conversation about the names eggplant vs. aubergine last weekend. A bride had chosen that color (along with red - it was spectacular!) And she preferred her color not be referred to as 'eggplant'.

  4. I like the recipe layout and it's easier to read. This looks good.

  5. Thanks gals for stopping by! I greatly appreciate your visits and comments. I post erratically and have very little time to leave a few words on your sites, but I come visit quietly as often as I can.

    Thank you for your unwavering loyalty!

  6. The site looks gorgeous. What a tasty way to devour those.... aubergines.

  7. This is the first recipe worth making I've seen in a week. I think it sounds unusual and delicious, so I'll make it for sure.

    It's malanzane to me, although aubergine sounds very sexy.

  8. no matter what you call it this looks delicious.

  9. No problems with either formats. Great, savory recipe.

  10. In Germany we call them Auberginen. That looks like a very nice recipe, and I`ll surely try it. Cheers my sweet Lola! I just read your former posts on Picasso and your name. Must go back and read more!

  11. Hello Eleonora,
    I can no longer recall how I came about to read your blog but read it I do! Love your writing style and layout and your photography makes my mouth water.
    Keep it up!

  12. yummy yummy i LOVE eggplant~aubergine and can't wait to make this recipe. i'm sorry i can be no help with your layout (which looks fantastic to me always anyway), i copy your recipes to cards that are then filed in my collection of recipe boxes.
    thank you for this one dearheart.

  13. Aargh! I have no aubergines in the house - I shall have to run out to see the mobile veg man at lunchtime, I can see!

    I've always called them aubergines: I think that's an English thing. Eggplant sounds so prosaic, somehow. Also, as you say, not a desperately accurate name. However, to bastardise Shakespeare: an aubergine by any other name would still taste as delicious ...

  14. Hiya Lola - I've printed out this recipe because I am sure if I substitute the butter from some low fat variation I could achieve almost a nice dish. I adore aubergines.


  15. Welcome Blair, and thank you for visiting and the wonderful kudos, I'm blushing!

    All my other old friends, I embrace you Italian-style and thank you for your comments. A second helping?

    Katja, go chase that veg man, run!

    Ciao a tutti
    E xx

  16. Che buono! I hope you dont mind, I'm reposting here:

  17. hi friends .. I like this article very helpful for me,,,,
    what about link exchange..??

  18. Sounds delish, vino, bread and we are on our way~~

  19. balsamic vinegar and 3/4 cup of parmesan cheese? i'm in heaven already!

    i like eggplants. i grow them in my garden, make eggplant recipes and i can't wait to try this one.

    btw, i'm am excited and glad we are going to do a couple of booky projects together. ♥

  20. The original eggplant was white and round, some times with streaks of pale lavender color. As they were grown in different parts of the globe they acquired the characteristics of the soil and the length of time they needed to stay on the plant to mature. Being water absorbent the weight increased with the term of maturation and so the skin adapted by elongating.

    If you visit some Oriental markets you are likely to find the direct descendants of the original eggplants. And here are some photos if by chance, you are not familiar with them.

  21. Hello
    I still ask for aubergines which is very confusing in Rome. I love the sound of this recipe and adore the line drawing of the eggplant. I am still quite new here so not the best person to compare layouts.....I do like this one very much - elegant.
    It seems we have mutual friends so i really hope we get to meet one of these days.
    This recipe is on my list for the weekend rachx

  22. Eggplant is so wonderfully yummy. One of my favorites, when cooked correctly.

    I always wondered about the name, too. I think the name alone kept me from trying it until I was older.

  23. I love the new layout - very easy to read and follow. I wonder... do you ever have a bitter flavor in the aubergines? It's what has ever kept me from them.

  24. I'm so happy you all stopped in for a bite, and thank you so much for your comments.

    Fern, I probably should have included what most eggplant cooks would so much rather skip. The leaching. Salt, a sieve and some weights, and poof!, all the bitterness dribbles away in a dribble of murky water.

    Thing is I buy my fresh melanzane so young and tender, so light and sweet, that I often forget to purge them.

    But you do have a point. I should probably rectify the recipe to include the much dreaded step.

    Thanks for pointing it out, I love this kind of interaction!

  25. Allegra thank you so much for the wonderful information you provide. The photo is stunning, please all go see!

    I've made an addendum, including a key step in the recipe suggested by Fern's comment.

    Ciao and have a great weekend!

  26. Yummy - 2 of my favourite foods, aubergines and parmigiano.
    Lola, I will definitely try this one! Migh skip the purging if I can find really fresh aubergines!

  27. Did you know you can make a sweet dish out of this? Caramelized eggplant slices make the most wonderful and intriguing dessert.

  28. Hem. Sorry. I forgot to tell you how I got here...
    I came in via a Twitter mentioning the fried sage recipe.

    Greetings from Frascati.

  29. Mimi, if you're not 100% sure of freshness, don't be lazy and purge away. ;)

    sapcedlaw, thank you for your visit and for your comment(s). Frascati is wonderful, I was actually flirting with the idea of renting a place there at one point.

    I have never tried the caramelized melanzana, but I've heard it's delightful. Must research...
    Thanks for the tip!