Thursday, March 3, 2011

baked eggplant casserole thingy (YUM)

subtitle: eggplant moussaka, minus the moussaka

subtitle II: eggplant parmesan--no it isn't really that either...

you will second guess the ingredients. and if you haven't by the time the cashier slowly glances up at you as she rings up the 2nd pound of mushrooms and the 3rd better double check your ingredient inventory. because chances are, you forgot something. then you'll feel knocked over the head yet again as you swipe your credit card to pay for all these groceries you have to lug home
when you realize 1 of the 4 guests doesn't like mushrooms. but what are you going to do? 2lbs of them are already weighing you down and you're wishing you didn't do that last set of curls at the gym.

seeing as i have my own food issues, i tend to freak out a little bit when "vegetarian" gets thrown into the mix. now, granted, i pretty regularly happen to eat vegetarian but when it involves cooking for a crowd, i feel the pressure. no longer! a thoughtful gift of the new moosewood cookbook is the perfect remedy for this kind of situation. the original recipe that caught my eye as i was flipping through was eggplant moussaka. the only problem was that i really don't like dairy-y sauces (a bechamel in this case). i blame it on the lactose intolerance. go ahead and try to fight that. so i skipped it.

what resulted was a delicious crowd-pleasing dish--even the non mushroom person! and, she doesn't like eggplant either! "you know, i don't like mushrooms or eggplant but this is good." pre-baking the eggplant dries it out some so that you don't get any sort of that slimy eggplant texture. and the tomato sauce is actually quite dry (has so much stuff in it) that it doesn't re-slime the eggplant.

eggplant _________
  • 3 medium eggplans (abt 7" long), peeled or not
  • salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 5 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14 1/2-oz can tomatoes, including all liquid
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (i did not use)
  • black pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 - 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 packed cup freshly minced parsley
  • 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs, plus extra for top (1/4 cup) (gluten-free)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesean
  • slice the eggplant into quarter-inch-thick rounds. sweat the eggplant: salt the slices lightly on both sides, then layer them gently in a colander, and place over a sink or bowl. let stand for 20-30 min
  • lightly oil a baking sheet, and preheat oven to 375. pat eggplant dry with a towel and spread slices on the baking sheet (it's okay if they overlap a little) and bake until tender (20-25 min)
mushroom tomato sauce:
  • heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet or dutch oven. add onions and salt and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 8-10 min, or until the onions become translucent. add mushrooms and garlic, stir and cover. cook over medium heat another 8-10 minutes (until mushrooms start to cook down).
  • add tomatoes, tomato paste, pepper, oregano and basil. crush tomatoes. bring to a boil then lower heat, and simmer, uncovered, another 12-15 minutes. remove from heat, stir in parsley bread crumbs and parmesan. set aside
  • preheat oven to 375 degrees. oil a very large casserole or deep baking pan at least 9"x13." place a double layer of eggplant on the bottom, add half mushroom sauce, add the rest of the eggplant and then add the rest of tomato sauce. dust lightly with bread crumbs and some parmsean.
  • baked uncovered for 35-40 minutes, or until bubbly on the bottom and lightly browned on top.

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