Confession: there was time I hated eggplant.
I’d never had it prepared well, so my only experience of eggplant was tasteless and rubbery. I wasted years avoiding any dish with eggplant. Until the day a friend brought some marinated eggplant to a BBQ we were hosting. Lebanese eggplants (long skinny ones) halved and soaked in a miso marinade. When we cooked them on the BBQ they smelled delicious and turned out soft and gooey. Oh yum!
While I was converted to the Lebanese and similar varieties of eggplant, I was still a bit wary of the larger globe variety. After all, they were known to be bitter with tougher skins and recipes usually called for them to be salted before cooking.
While I still prefer the long skinny varieties of eggplant for most things, a big old globe is great for a bake – which is what I made the other night. I looked at a variety of recipes for inspiration, noting one thing they all had in common was that everything was cooked before being assembled and baked. Frankly, I couldn’t be bothered with that. I just wanted to throw it all together in a dish and put it in the oven to cook. Which is exactly what I did.
My version of an eggplant bake is quick and easy to prepare with a long cooking time, which results in mouth-meltingly soft vegetables topped with crunchy breadcrumbs. I always keep a stash of fresh breadcrumbs in the freezer that I make with any leftover bits of bread.
You can serve this with whatever takes your fancy. We had it with lemon rice and garlic bread.
Easy eggplant bake
1 globe eggplant, sliced
8-10 largish button mushrooms sliced
1-2 carrots sliced
1 ½ -2 cups shredded green cabbage
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
2 tbsp non-dairy plain yoghurt
salt & pepper to taste
Slice the eggplant into rounds roughly 1 cm thick. Cover in salt and set aside for 15-30 minutes, then rinse really well.
In a bowl combine the pasata, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and mix well. Spread a little of the tomato sauce in the bottom of your baking dish, just to stop it from sticking. Next line the dish with about half the mushroom slices then scatter about half of each of the carrots, cabbage and chickpeas on top. Spoon over some of the tomato sauce then put a layer of eggplant slices on top. Repeat with another layer of vegetable, and spoon over some more pasata. Reserve about half a cup or so for the very top and mix that with the yoghurt. Put on your top layer of eggplant, the spoon the last of the tomato sauce on top. Spread a nice thick layer of breadcrumbs on top, and then cover with foil, or use a lid if you have one that fits well.
Place in a preheated oven (200°C) and cook for an hour. After the hour is up remove the foil or lid, lower the heat to 180°C and cook for a further 30 minutes to allow the top to crisp and some of the liquid to evaporate.