Italian Recipes/ Main Course/ Side Dishes/ Vegetables

Spicy Eggplant Gratin Casserole

eggplant casserole

This spicy eggplant gratin is similar to Eggplant Parmesan, but the eggplant is baked, not fried. Made with a spicy tomato sauce and smoked mozzarella, this spicy eggplant gratin is a perfect side dish for any main course. Of course, this could even be the main course!

eggplant casserole

I just finished planting my garden and I’m hoping that I get lots of eggplant. A few years ago I had over twenty on one plant. Last year some unnamed creature took most of them. So keep your fingers crossed that this year he doesn’t come back, because I have lots of great eggplant recipes I’m dying to make! I love this spicy eggplant gratin that I’m sharing today. I’ve served it at parties and just to Manservant and either way it is always a hit. I’m not sure if it’s the spiciness of the tomato sauce  or the smokiness of the cheese, but whatever it is everyone always wants seconds.

Gratins are baked in shallow dishes and often topped with cheese or breadcrumbs and drizzled with oil so that the top becomes crusty and golden brown. They are often popped under the broiler for a few minutes to achieve that gorgeous exterior. This eggplant gratin is no exception. This gratin is similar to Eggplant Parmesan but I love the fact that instead of frying eggplant slices, these eggplant cubes are baked. The tomato sauce is simply made and heartily spicy. However, if you choose you could use jarred tomato sauce arrabiata style and achieve something similar. It might not be quite as thick as homemade but I believe you’d still have something to be proud of!

eggplant casserole

As for the cheese…I only recommend the best. Use the best Parmesan you can afford and if you can find smoked mozzarella by all means use it. I however am not above using regular mozzarella and if you want a smoky flavor add a few drops of liquid smoke to the finished sauce. Really. I think it’s the smokiness of this spicy eggplant gratin that makes this the perfect side dish to any grilled entree.

I made this eggplant gratin ahead of time and kept in well covered in the fridge for two days before I baked it. This delectable side dish turned out perfect and everyone was very pleased with the results. Honestly though, with a salad you could make this your meal…it’s just that I’m married to a man who thinks that a big piece of protein should be the star of every plate. Do what you choose, but more importantly if you are an eggplant lover, make sure to make this. Your efforts will be rewarded with everyone asking for seconds!

eggplant casserole

A Few More Eggplant Dishes:

Fried Eggplant Balls with Melted Mozzarella Centers from Cookin’ Canuck

Eggplant with Roasted Garlic Yogurt Sauce from A Beautiful Plate

Stuffed Eggplant from Wine and Glue

Check out some other great side dishes:

Chinese Eggplant with Pork and Garlic

Cauliflower Gratin Casserole

This Cauliflower Gratin Casserole has the right stuff. Made to be rich; this dish is filled with cheese and cream. Some might think of it as mac and cheese, except cauliflower replaces the mac. Reminds me of a steakhouse side dish-where often times you want the side dish more than the steak! #cauliflower #casserole

Saffron Herb Rice

Saffron Herb Rice with yellow and white grains is easy to make and tastes great! Plus it is so pretty! #rice #China

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eggplant casserole

Spicy Eggplant Gratin Casserole

  • Author: Abbe Odenwalder
  • Prep Time: 30 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 Minutes
  • Total Time: 70 Minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 Servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish, Main Course
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


This spicy eggplant gratin is similar to Eggplant Parmesan, but the eggplant is baked, not fried. Made with a spicy tomato sauce and smoked mozzarella, this spicy eggplant gratin is a perfect side dish for any main course. Of course, this could even be the main course!



3 lbs eggplant, cut into 1” chunks

1/2 c plus 3 T olive oil

Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper

1 medium onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 t crushed red pepper

30 basil leaves

2 28 oz cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed

6 oz smoked mozzarella or regular mozzarella

3 oz Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated (1 cup)


Position racks in upper and lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 375. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Divide eggplant chunks between the prepared baking sheets and toss each sheet with 2 T of oil. Season with salt and pepper and spread into a single layer. Bake for about 45 minutes, until golden brown, rotating baking sheets halfway through baking. Keep oven on.

Meanwhile heat 1/4 of the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion, season with salt and cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally until softened. Add garlic, crushed red pepper and 5 of the basil leaves and cook until garlic is soft and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, squeezing each one with your hand and dropping into pot. Stir occasionally, smashing tomatoes as you go. Simmer about 45 minutes until sauce has thickened. There should be about 6 c of sauce.

Spread 1 c of the sauce in the bottom of a shallow 2 1/2 quart baking dish.Top with half of the eggplant and the remaining basil leaves. Drizzle with 1 T of the olive oil. Spread 2 c of the sauce on top and sprinkle with half of the cheese. Drizzle with 1 T of olive oil. Top with remaining eggplant, sauce, mozzarella and 1 T of olive oil.

Bake the gratin in the upper third of the oven for about 30 minutes or until bubbling. Remove from oven and preheat the broiler to high. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 c of Parmesan over the top and broil for 3 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. (If this has been refrigerated before baking, please bring to room temperature before placing on oven.)


A great recipe from Food and Wine.

Keywords: eggplant

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  • Thao @ In Good Flavor
    June 2, 2018 at 8:01 pm

    This looks and sounds fantastic!! I love that you added the smokiness of the mozzarella. I would be completely satisfied with just this for dinner!

  • Susan
    June 1, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    I’d be more than happy with this as my meal, Abbe! It sounds like a simplified eggplant parm which I love! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for your eggplant harvest this summer 🙂

  • Karen (Back Road Journal)
    June 1, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    Baked not fried and spicy…yes, please! It sounds delicious. I hope the critters stay out of your garden this year, if they don’t you might think of getting a Have-a-heart trap.

  • Balvinder
    May 31, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    Looks amazing! You have given me idea to make something similar for dinner tonight!

  • Liz
    May 30, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    YES, this would be a fabulous dish to make when Bill is out of town, so I can have it all to myself! Your gratin looks fabulous!!

  • Tricia @ Saving Room for Dessert
    May 30, 2018 at 11:53 am

    I could eat this for dinner too! You make me want to run out to the garden and plant an eggplant! I’m not a big fan of fried foods so this works for me. So pretty too!

  • heather (delicious not gorgeous)
    May 30, 2018 at 4:06 am

    this sounds so good!!! i’m a sucker for eggplant parm so i know i’d like this version (:

  • Gerlinde
    May 29, 2018 at 11:55 pm

    I like egg plants when they are not greasy . Your recipe is right up my alley..

  • John / Kitchen Riffs
    May 29, 2018 at 11:31 pm

    I love roasting eggplant then using it in dishes like this. Nothing beats the taste of fried eggplant — all that oil! — but roast/baked comes really close. This would make a terrific dinner for us — nothing else needed. Thanks!