Eggplant Gratin (version V)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 small eggplants, each weighing about 5 ounces or the equivalent weight in larger eggplants, trimmed at stem end
fine sea salt to taste
3 tablespoons finely minced mixed herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, and basil
a pinch of dried oregano
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, cored and halved crosswise

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil over the bottom of the gratin dish. If the eggplants are small, slice them in half lengthwise. (If they are large, cut them into four lengthwise slices.) Place the eggplants, skin side down, in a single layer in the gratin dish. Lightly score them with a sharp knife. Sprinkle with the salt and minced fresh herbs and oregano. Sprinkle with about half the cheese. Place the tomato halves, cut side down, on top of the eggplants in a single layer. Brush the tomato skins with the rest of the oil and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Place the gratin dish in the center of the oven and bake until the vegetables are soft and almost falling apart, about 1 hour. The tops of the tomatoes should be almost black, and the juices from the eggplant and tomato should turn thick and almost caramelized. Serve warm or at room temperature, as a side dish or main vegetable dish. Use a spatula to cut and serve measured portions.

Four to six servings

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