2 1/2 pounds eggplant
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced
4 large eggs
1 cup milk or light cream
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
10 large basil leave, torn into small pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 2-qt gratin dish. Cut the eggplants into rounds or slabs a scant 1/2 inch thick. Salt if you wish and set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large non stick skillet, add onions, and cook over medium heat, turning frequently, until soft and light gold, about 12 minutes. Scrape into a bowl. While the onions are cooking,beat the eggs with the milk; stir in the cheese, vinegar, 3/4 tsp salt, and some freshly ground pepper.
If you salted it, rinse the eggplant, then wick up the water with a towel. Heat the remaining oil in the skillet. When hot, add the eggplant and immediately turn it in the pan so that all the pieces are coated lightly with the oil. Cook over medium heat, turning occasionally, until all the eggplant is golden. This will take about 25 minutes in all, but you don't need to stand over the pan. This is a good window of time to make a quick tomato sauce for the dish or another part of the meal.
Season the eggplant with salt and pepper to taste, then toss with the onions and basil. Put it in the prepared dish and pour the custard over the top. Bake until golden, firm, and puffed, 30-40 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe from Local Flavors by Deborah Madison