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The last two days, I got to go play with goats! A bunch of cute, cuddly baby goats. 🙂 One of our volunteers at work just got a couple wee bitty babies who are about as big as small dogs, and my coworker/best friend and I got to go play with them and the two older goats. Then yesterday, we went to the ranch of a work vendor (she does goat rentals) and we got to see her adorable bottle babies. They were so cute and cuddly, and just wanted love and attention! Sorry, I’m a huge goat fan, and if I ever get enough property, I’m so getting goats. My love of goats follows my trend of loving animals that most people don’t consider cute… rhinos and sea turtles are my top two favorite animals. 🙂

In honor of the goats, I decided to post a vegetarian dish today. A very uncommon thing in my repertoire since I’m not a big vegetable fan and would probably starve if I didn’t have my meaty proteins to fill me up! But, here we have it. A truly delicious vegetarian dish from none other than the famous Julia Child. This was the first recipe of hers I have ever tried as they tend to be complicated and long, hence quite intimidating. She calls this gratin a simple version of ratatouille, and it is decadent in its presentation and in its flavor. I changed how I sliced things just because I wanted everything to be rounds, instead of some rounds and some long slices. I would highly recommend this gratin whether it be for your family or for entertaining guests. Personally, I definitely plan on making this again, and hopefully trying some other Julia Child recipes soon!Eggplant and Zucchini Gratin

½ cup olive oil, divided
2 Japanese eggplants
2 medium zucchini, about 1 pound total
3 or 4 ripe tomatoes, about 1 pound total
1 tablespoon herbs de Provence, divided
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Arrange the rack on the lower-middle level of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Pour ⅓ cup olive oil onto a baking sheet, and gently tilt it to evenly disperse the oil.

Trim off ends of eggplant and slice crosswise on the diagonal into ½-inch thick slices. One at a time, dip the slices in the oil on the sheet, pressing to lightly coat one side with oil. Arrange the slices on the sheet, oiled side up, in a single layer and sprinkle on ½ teaspoon each of salt and herbs de Provence. Bake for about 15 minutes until the eggplant slices are soft and somewhat shriveled; allow to cool briefly.

Meanwhile, trim the ends off the zucchini and cut crosswise on the diagonal into slices about ¼-inch thick. Salt the zucchini and let it sit for about 15 minutes then wipe off the moisture; this will work to pull excess moisture from the zucchini so the gratin isn’t watery. Slice the tomatoes into ¼-inch thick slices.

In a gratin dish, or a similar sized 11 by 7-inch baking dish, lay three or four eggplant slices against the narrow side of the dish. Arrange four or five zucchini slices in front of the eggplant slices, and three or four tomato slices in front of the zucchini. Repeat vegetable rows until the pan is full of alternating rows of eggplant, zucchini, and tomato, placing them so the colorful top edges of the previous row are still visible. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence and drizzle 1½ tablespoons olive oil over the vegetables.

To prepare the topping, combine the Panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and a teaspoon of herbs de Provence. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and toss it to coat the crumbs. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the vegetables.

Place dish in center of oven and bake for 40 minutes until vegetables are soft, the juices are bubbling, and the top is a deep golden brown. If the crumbs need more browning, you can stick them under the broiler for a few moments. Serve hot directly from the baking dish.

Note: If you wish to prepare this in advance, stop after the vegetables are laid in the gratin dish; cover and refrigerate. Add the oil, herbs, and breadcrumbs right before baking.

Source: Adapted from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home by Julia Child

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