- 3 medium leeks, white and tender green only, thinly sliced and thoroughly rinsed
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 fresh bay leaf, optional
- salt & pepper
- 1 T. butter
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1 large globe eggplant (about 1 lb.)—see note below
- 3 tomatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs.)—see note below
- 2 to 3 T. roughly chopped fresh herbs (winter savory, thyme, marjoram, and/or oregano)
- Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- 2 to 4 T. Toasted breadcrumbs or grated Parmesan or Pecorino
In a large sauté pan set over medium heat, wilt the leeks in the butter and olive oil with the garlic and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper. When the leeks are tender and their liquid has evaporated (after 20 to 30 minutes), remove from the heat spread in an even layer in the bottom of an oiled gratin or 2 1/2 quart shallow baking dish (discard the bay leaf); set aside. (Leeks may be wilted up to 24 hours ahead. Bring to room temperature before building the gratin.)
Slice the eggplant and tomatoes into ¼-inch thick rounds. Arrange the eggplant and tomatoes on top of the leeks in overlapping rows of alternating slices of eggplant and tomato. Each slice should cover the previous slice by at least two-thirds. Season generously with salt and pepper and scatter the herbs over all. Drizzle generously with olive oil and cover with foil.
Bake in a preheated 400° oven until the eggplant is tender—about 45 minutes. Remove the foil and, if using, cover the gratin with the toasted breadcrumbs. Continue to bake until the juices are reduced and thickened—another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. If using cheese instead of breadcrumbs, scatter over the gratin at this point. Let the gratin rest for at least 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot or tepid.
Try and select eggplant and tomatoes that are roughly the same circumference. In some cases this may mean using 2 or 3 Japanese eggplant instead of the globe eggplant.