Eggplant is one of those nightshade plants that people either love or hate. True, it’s rich in healthy bioflavonoids and the skin contains anthocyanins that may well help with cognitive and neuro function, heart disease and high cholesterol. Plus, it’s low calorie and fiber-rich.
For many people, the turning point in their eggplant relationship is the classic Eggplant Parmesan, battered slices of eggplant fried in oil, arranged between sauce and cheese and baked until bubbly. This baked casserole, vegan (natch), is a much lighter version that used roasted eggplant slices and fresh tomato sauce.
Topped with sprinkles of herb-flavored bread crumbs, and served with a hunk of garlic bread and a fresh salad, you may agree that this is better than the cheesy fried version. Like many casseroles, the dish is even better the next day as leftovers.
1 large or 2 medium eggplants
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped (not crushed) (can use more or less to taste – we like lots)
3-4 Cups Chopped Tomatoes, fresh or canned
1 Tbsp. Chopped fresh Basil or 1 Tsp. Dried
½ Tsp. Pepper
6 Sun-dried Tomatoes, soaked in warm water and drained (optional)
Roast the Eggplant:
Step One: Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.
Step Two: Slice eggplant across in ½” to ¾” slices to make disks. Salt each slice and let sit one minute.
Step Three: Lightly oil a baking sheet using 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil.
Step Four: Wipe each eggplant slice with a damp paper towel to remove salt. Place on baking sheet , flipping each piece so top and bottom are covered with oil.
Step Five: Chop one clove of garlic and sprinkle on eggplant slices. You may also add some fresh basil or parsley at this point (dried is not as tasty).
Step Six: Roast about 25 minutes, turning once after 15 minutes. Let cool.
Prepare the Fresh Tomato Sauce:
Step One: Heat 1 Tbsp. Olive oil over medium heat in a sauté pan. Add remaining garlic and cook for about one minute.
Step Two: Add tomatoes, basil, pepper and salt to taste. Cook for 5 minutes.
Step Three: Stir in remaining olive oil to the sauce, cover and let stand while you assemble he dish. If using the sun-dried tomatoes, add at this point. The sauce should not be overcooked as it will be baked again.
Step One: Place a light layer of sauce on the bottom of an oven baking dish.
Step Two: Arrange eggplant slices and top with sauce. Continue layering until the eggplant and sauce are used up.
Step Three: Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes.
Enjoy with a fresh green salad shared with good friends.