From garden to table. This tomato, eggplant casserole never disappoints and is the perfect dish to offer up to your summer guests.
I’m hosting company this upcoming weekend. So, I am prepping ahead for foods and meals to offer my guests.
One of the summer dishes that I make from my Italian, mother-in-law’s garden is a vegan, vegetarian, eggplant tomato casserole. .
This is a simple, delicious dish, but requires some prep time for the eggplant, I sweat the eggplant ahead of time. This is a process where the eggplant is sliced, salted, layered, and then pressed(weighted down). For the weight, I use a stack of heavy plates.
Apparently this process, which started years ago, was done to draw out the vegetable’s bitter juices. However, according to Nicholas Clee, author of “Don’t Sweat The Aubergine”, the varieties of eggplant typically available today don’t have the bitterness that characterized popular varieties of decades ago. But I still do it out of habit and I like how it turns out when I sweat the eggplant. You could however skip the sweating process altogether and pan-fry the sliced eggplant. You only need to cook it in light olive oil until the slices start to look translucent. Pan frying is a great option when you don’t have a lot of time.
Once the eggplant is done sweating, it’s time to make the dish.
I have made this recipe a few different ways. If you want it to remain vegan, don’t add cheese. If you don’t care about the cheese, you can feel free to add cheese on top of each layer.
I have also made this recipe where I place it on a cookie sheet with one single layer of eggplant on the bottom and a single layer of sliced tomatoes on the top. This cooks much faster and is less moist, but still tastes great!
Let’s get to the casserole recipe
2 – small to mid-sized eggplants
3 mid-sized, ripe tomatoes
Italian seasoning(I buy the dry, premixed Basil and Oregano) and sprinkle it on each layer of eggplant and tomato
Salt – I lightly salt each layer…but feel free to add as much or little as you like
Olive oil – approximately 1-2 tsps
Preheat the oven to 350
Thinly slice the eggplants and the tomatoes
If you decided to sweat the eggplant as explained above, you will not need to slice the tomatoes until you are done bleeding the eggplant
Coat the casserole dish with a drizzle of oil and spread it around with your hand(clean hand…obviously)
Start layering the vegetables, starting with eggplant first, then tomatoes
Sprinkle salt and seasoning between each layer
Finish the layering with the tomatoes on the top layer and your final drizzle of seasoning.
If you want you can top it with a light coating of cheese or keep it vegan and skip the cheese alltogether.
Cover the dish and place it in the oven. Bake it for at least an hour or until you start seeing the tomatoes shrinking and little liquid left in the pan.
Slice and serve as a side dish or top your favorite rice or pasta.
This dish is also great on top of a really good, crispy baguette or rustic Italian bread.
You can also eat this dish cold. Sometimes it takes better and sweeter the next day. It also makes a good dip served on crackers, round bread slices or crostini.
Let me know what you think.