Vegetarian Comfort Food - Eggplant Tomato Casserole
This is another one of my mom's classic recipes that I have reworked a bit to make it my own. My changes, though, are very slight. I can not recall which cookbook this is from originally (Mom, if you know, can you put it in the comments?), but it was a frequent member of our holiday tables growing up. It was always served as a side dish, but a few years ago, it occurred to me that it would be a pretty spectacular vegetarian main dish.
The recipe itself is kind of goofy, in a 70's sort of way. It tastes vaguely Italian (especially if you use oregano), but uses cheddar cheese instead of mozzarella, and butter instead of olive oil. Analysis aside, it is pretty damn tasty, and was a great way to use the eggplant that I received last week from Fresh Picks. It is also a very good make-ahead dish. I prepared it Sunday afternoon, but we didn't eat it until Tuesday night. If you want to do the same, do everything but cook it, and just put it in the fridge covered with foil until you are ready to eat.
Eggplant Tomato Casserole
1 large eggplant
1.5 teaspoons salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons melted butter
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I use panko)
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
2 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
paprika (I use smoked)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Peel and slice the eggplant. Put it in a pan with salt and about an inch of water. Boil, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Drain the water and mash the eggplant well with a potato masher. Mix in the eggs, butter, pepper (to taste), onion, herbs and bread crumbs. Butter a shallow casserole (about 1.5 quarts). Cover the bottom of the casserole with half of the sliced tomatoes. Spoon in the eggplant mixture. Arrange the rest of the tomatoes on top and cover with the cheeses. Sprinkle with paprika.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Serves 3-4 as a main dish, 5-6 as a side dish.