Friday, 17 August 2012

Eggplant Casserole

I admit, this is a somewhat odd dish. I really like it, though. Maybe you could think of it as the offspring of ratatouille and stuffing. You want a good large Italian or Spanish type eggplant for this. I used a Listada de Gandia for it, which we are growing for the first time this year. They've done really well for us this year and have been much easier to grow than I expected.

It's important to use the right bread too. You need a good, sturdy, solid yet not too dense bread for this. Whole wheat is probably best. Avoid light fluffy sandwich breads as they will just get soggy and collapse. Whatever bread you use, it should also be on the stale side, again, to add some structural integrity. 

To me, this is a vegetarian main dish, but if you wanted to serve it with meat I would suggest keeping it light. Fairly plain chicken or fish would be best. Actually, this does have a very meaty texture - I served it to a vegetarian friend once, who was quite suspicious that I was pulling a fast one on them and giving them meat, as if I would. 

4 servings
1 hour 10 minutes - 40 minutes prep time

Eggplant Casserole

1 large (500 grams, or 1 pound) eggplant
2 large (500 grams, or 1 pound) tomatoes
1 large onion

4 or 5 slices (250 grams, or 1/2 pound) bread, see above
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon rubbed thyme
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, ground
1/4 teaspoon salt
150 grams (6 ounces) old Cheddar cheese, grated
50 grams (2 ounces) Parmesan cheese, grated

Slice the eggplant, and arrange them on a plate in a single layer. Salt them heavily, and weight them with another plate on top. Set aside for 20 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, blanch and peel the tomatoes, and cut them into 1" dice. Set them aside. Peel and chop the onion. Set it aside.

Cut the bread into 1" dice. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet, and toast the bread cubes in it until nicely browned all over; turning regularly to achieve this. When ready, put them in a 9" x 13" lasagne pan.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Rinse the eggplant slices, gently squeezing them dry. Cut them into 1" dice (or a little smaller). Heat the remaining oil in the skillet, and cook the eggplant until softened and slightly browned all over, turning regularly. Add the onions when the eggplant is about half done. Sprinkle the seasonings over the eggplant and mix in well. Add the diced tomatoes and cook until they are soft. Mix the vegetables in with the bread cubes in the baking pan.

Grate the cheeses and sprinkle them evenly over the top of the casserole. Bake for 30 minutes, until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

Last year at this time I made Eggplant, Potato, Bean & Pepper Stir-Fry and Cocoa Zucchini Loaf. No excess zucchini for us this year, alas. We are not even getting enough for regular cooking. Our 8 plants are managing to produce about 2 runty zucchini a week. That's not each. That's total. *sobs*

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