Eggplant and Tomato Casserole
The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, March 1st, 2015 edition. By: Blaise Doubman
Eggplant Casserole would be perfect dish for “Meatless Mondays”…
I think a lot of vegetables get a bad name without people first having even tried them! Take eggplant for example. The vegetable is not only delicious to look at – a deep, glossy, nightshade of purple – but is actually delicious to eat! Have you tried eggplant? If not – how come? Its taste is very much similar to a squash – very light in texture and absorbs flavors beautifully when cooked alongside tomatoes, butter and garlic for examples. Eggplant is delicious when substituted for the meat in lasagna and even better in casseroles – like this one! Try it once and you’ll be a fan…
Eggplants also have a lot of health benefits! Did you know that eggplants are full of vitamins and minerals and that they also help with cardiovascular health and free radical protection? See – they are a wonderful vegetable! And a lot of people are now participating in a movement called “Meatless Mondays” where on Mondays; all dishes made for the day contain no meat. This movement started online as a way of promoting good health, healthy eating, and more vegetable consumption. A lot of people have started this, and really benefiting from not only the health benefits – but by experimenting in the kitchen with things they would have never tired before, and absolutely loving the results! This casserole will be a hit with your family and friends.
Eggplant and Tomato Casserole
Casseroles are beginning to be a thing of the past – and I want to change that. Casseroles (especially this one) can be made ahead, refrigerated or even frozen until ready to bake off, and can provide leftovers for the next day. This casserole is so flavorful you won’t believe it – and you won’t miss the meat! This recipe is also very versatile. You can use frozen onions instead of fresh, and canned diced tomatoes instead of dicing your own. Panko breadcrumbs are used in place of regular breadcrumbs because of the delicious crunch they provide. Leftovers can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Also – when picking an eggplant, chose one that is dark purple and heavier feeling – this will ensure freshness.
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 large onion, diced
1 medium sized eggplant
½ green bell pepper, diced
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 large tomatoes, cleaned and diced
1 16 oz. container cottage cheese
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F and by spraying a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
Cook the diced onion and butter together in a medium sized skillet over moderate heat until the onions are tender and translucent.
Next, peel the eggplant and cut off both ends. Cube the rest of the eggplant into cubes roughly about ½-inch big.
Add the eggplant to the cooked onions and stir in diced green pepper, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Cover this with a lid and allow to cook for about 20 minutes – or until the eggplant is tender – stirring occasionally.
Next, once the mixture is cooked and the eggplant tender, add in the diced tomatoes, stir and cook for another two minutes.
To assemble the casserole, place a layer of the vegetable mixture on the bottom of the prepared casserole dish and spread evenly, followed by a layer of the cottage cheese and then the bread crumbs. Do layers of this – ending with the vegetables – until you have used all of the ingredients. You should have between 3 and 4 layers of the vegetables.
Place, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest slightly before serving.