This tasty Baked Eggplant recipe is the perfect Meatless Monday dish. Flavorful and hearty, Eggplant is the perfect vegetable for a meatless-substitute meal. I absolutely love Eggplants but so how I seem to forget about them for some reason or another!
A member of the nightshade family of vegetables, eggplant is not only delicious, but is a wonderful substitute for meat in most dishes because of it’s chewy texture. Plus it’s nutritional benefits are; low-calorie food, provides fiber, potassium, manganese and vitamins B1, B6 and folate. Is a good source of phytonutrients and flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and help neutralize free radicals, which in turn lessens oxidative damage to cells.
When you think eggplant, the common dark purple Italian globe variety probably comes to mind; most likely, because that’s what can be readily found in most supermarkets nowadays. In fact, there are numerous varieties of eggplant, with varying colors, shapes, tastes, and textures. This pan-fried eggplant casserole is technically a Turkish dish, but now I made it my own. It’s baked with tomatoes, garlic, and herbs and served room temperature in a lasagna-like slab. One slice is so decadent and delicious in its simplicity, you might almost forget about your old friend from Eggplant Parmesan.
So next time you’re in the store, don’t pass by an Eggplant without giving it a try!
Ali in the Valley
First, pan fry the eggplant slices until nice and golden brown (in a little olive oil), this helps to develop flavor…
Add in the Bell Peppers
Basil and Spices
Author: Alison Ball
2 to 2 1/4 pounds small to medium-sized eggplant cut into rounds, approximately 1/3-inch thick
2 large red bell peppers
Olive oil for pan frying
Tomato sauce refer to recipe below
3/4 to 1 cup grated cheese such as Pecorino and/or Parmesan or combination
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil ~1 ounce, roughly torn into pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1 28- ounce can of tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion minced
3 garlic cloves minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
red pepper flakes or fresh chile minced (used 1/2 habanero)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
If salting the eggplant: Cut the eggplant into rounds, approximately 1/3-inch thick. Arrange a layer in a large colander and sprinkle lightly with salt. Repeat layering and salting until all the rounds have been salted. Weight them with a plate for 30 minutes to an hour. Then rinse the slices and pat dry, removing as much water as possible.
Pan frying the eggplant: Heat 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over moderate-high heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, arrange a single layer of eggplant slices in the pan. Cover and cook until the underside is golden, 3 to 5 minutes; turn the slices with a spatula, drizzle in additional oil as needed, and cover and continue cooking until golden and tender, 3 to 4 minutes longer on the other side. Remove the slices as they are done and set aside to cool. Repeat until all the eggplant has been pan fried.
Pan frying the red peppers: Remove the seeds and cut the peppers into wide strips. Lightly coat a skillet with olive oil (a teaspoon or two). When hot, add the red peppers and sauté ~7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly charred in spots.
Assembling the dish: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a skillet (~12-13-inch skillet). Arrange a layer of eggplant slices and red peppers on top. Top with a little more tomato sauce, about 1/2 cup. Sprinkle lightly with shredded cheese, and scatter torn basil leaves on top. Repeat, with a second layer of eggplant and red peppers. Spread the top with another ½ cup tomato sauce. Finish with a final sprinkling of Parmigiano and torn basil leaves. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes.
Note: You can assemble the dish in advance and refrigerate. Just bring to room temperature before baking.
Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the onion, and sauté a few minutes until translucent. Add the tomatoes, fresh thyme, red pepper flakes (or fresh chile), and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes.