Yes and no.
It is cooked veggies - garlic, eggplant and some tomatoes (canned, pureed, I've even used a little leftover soup) plus sardines just for the fabulous taste of them, and mixed with some capers and hard cheese and baked with garlic breadcrumbs on top. So, sue me if the title doesn't quite fit the description. It is mind-blowingly delicious!
The Sicilian part is the eggplant and sardines; the gratin is the precooked portion mixed with cheese and topped with breadcrumbs. Now do you see how the name evolved? No? Forget about it! Just make it!
Eggplant and Sardine Gratin, Sicilian Style (inspired by French Foodie Baby)
1 large globe eggplant (the regular purple kind), cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1 can sardines in olive oil (lemon flavoring is also ok)
1 small tomato, chopped, retain juices
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons capers
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup hard cheese like asiago, parmesan, pecorino romano, shredded
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat an ovenware skillet such as cast iron over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and sautee garlic until it just starts to brown. Add eggplant and toss to coat with oil and cook until it softens, about 7-10 minutes, adding more oil as needed to keep it from sticking to the pan; using the oil from the sardines works well.
Add the chopped tomato and sardines, mashing the sardines to break them up and cook the mixture. Cook another 5-7 minutes until tomato has broken down and the mixture begins to be well blended. Turn off heat and stir in capers and cheese and set aside.
In another smaller skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and add breadcrumbs and stir continuously as breadcrumbs brown in the oil. Remove from heat and salt and pepper bread crumbs. Spread over top of the eggplant mixture and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the top is crisp and the sides are bubbling. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 3-5 minutes and serve.