I want to apologize for the shortage of posts lately. Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but I have… I miss writing every few days, but mostly I miss having something to write about every few days. Sure, I’m still cooking and we’re obviously still eating but few dishes warrant a post. I’m 33 weeks pregnant and extremely low on energy. Standing in the kitchen to prepare a great meal is difficult to say the least. We’ve been having a lot of stir-fries, turkey burgers, and meatloaf. All good, but nothing that really gets me exited. I make dishes that will last at least two nights so that I get a break. For the record, I’m the one pushing myself to keep cooking good food… it is what makes me happy! But oy, the standing hurts.
This post isn’t a woe-is-me post; it is actually a post about a great new recipe I tried that I think you’ll love. It was easy, delicious, and healthy! The holy trinity of cooking (aside from the peppers, onions, carrots holy trinity of Louisiana cooking)! Anyway…
I know I’ve mentioned my Olive Trees & Honey cookbook before. I love it. It is vegetarian recipes from Jewish communities around the world. Aside from the roots of the recipes, there is nothing Jewish about the recipes — that is, non-Jews would totally love this cookbook just the same. Plus, the vegetarian part hasn’t been a problem for these meat eaters! The recipes are unique and flavorful. You won’t miss the meat. (Although, meat can easily be added to a lot of these recipes if you must have it.)
This recipe is for a Yemenite eggplant “casserole.” Not sure why they use the word “casserole.” I hate that word. My husband kept asking if there would be tater tots in it a la the Duggar’s tater tot casserole. Alas, no tots. I changed up the recipe just a bit to make it work for me. After making it once, I now see that there are tons of possibilities for customizing this recipe.
Yemenite Eggplant Casserole
- 2 eggplants, peeled (they don’t have to be peeled perfectly)
- Olive oil or canola oil (or whatever you like to use for roasting)
For the sauce:
- Olive oil or canola oil
- 1-2 onions depending on your taste (I used 1.5 because that’s what I had)
- 4-5 cloves of garlic
- 2-3 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 2 1/4 lbs of tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped — I used 2 cans of whole tomatoes (the 28 oz size)
- 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
- 1/8 tsp cayenne for heat (optional)
- Salt and pepper
Peel and slice the eggplants into 1/2 inch slices. Toss the slices in a bit of oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Put into a 425 degree oven to roast just for about 20 minutes. You really just want them to start to soften. They should be fork-tender. They don’t need to be fully cooked or anything as they will cook more. You could also cook them in a pan on the stovetop, but I figured they would absorb more oil that way.
To make the sauce slice, dice, or chop (your choice! I sliced) the onions and sautee in a pot. After a few minutes add the garlic making sure not to let it brown or burn. Then add the spices to toast just a bit (cumin, turmeric, paprika, and cayenne). Then add the tomatoes. Canned tomatoes worked just fine for me; I didn’t add all the juice from the second can though. Break them up as they cook. Add a little salt and pepper (you can add more later). Stir and let it simmer for at least 15 minutes — 30 is better if you have the time. Stir occasionally, breaking up the tomatoes. As the sauce cooks, the spices will infuse the sauce and the tomatoes will get very soft. Taste after about 10-15 minutes and add more seasoning if you wish. I added a bit more of everything to get a stronger flavor — it is up to you.
When the eggplant is done, take a small ladle-full of sauce and cover the bottom of a casserole dish (a 9×12 Pyrex or whatever you have is fine) so the eggplant doesn’t stick. Layer some of the eggplant in the bottom and cover with sauce. Add another layer of eggplant and more sauce. Continue until you’ve used all of the eggplant. Add the remaining sauce (at least the chunky bits — I didn’t want it to be a stew, so I tried to limit the amount of liquid that went in).
Turn your oven down to 350 and add the dish for 20 minutes. Everything is cooked, so you really just want it to heat through and to tell the sauce marry with the eggplant.
This dish was delicious — we both really loved it. We called it “Middle Eastern Eggplant Parm Minus the Parm.” (Although, haloumi or feta might work well!) The first night I served it with roasted chickpeas, another night along side greens sauteed in olive oil and lemon, and a little for lunch over wheat berries. You could serve it as a side dish or a main dish; lunch or dinner. Add some chicken or lamb if you would like. Add other veggies. Really, the key here is the sauce. The intense flavor of the spices really made it great. What you mix with the sauce is entirely up to you. The eggplant did work well, though.
If you decide to give this a try and you customize it, let me know what you do and how it goes!