Sunday, 5 May 2013

Aubergine / eggplant casserole ~ a family favourite

This casserole is always greeted with enthusiasm.  Eggplant as the central ingredient of this dish is very good indeed.  It's an unlikely-looking vegetable: the one pictured here weighed about 400 grams - the right amount for this recipe which makes enough for four adults with good appetites.  Its beautiful purple colour shows up best in this brightly lit photo:

For those unfamiliar with eggplant here is what the inside looks like: very pale and rather pithy-looking; firm but a little spongy in texture.  With the exception of the green stalk all of it is edible - just chop it up!  It does need to be cooked however - or at least I never knew it to be eaten raw!

You'll need a reasonable amount of time to prepare this dish: I allow preparation time of about 40 minutes, then baking time of about 45, after which it can stand for ten or so minutes.  That having been said, all of the preparation is fairly simple.

A selection of the ingredients used (although not exactly) - all wholesome and delicious!

Preheat the oven to about 180 degrees Celsius.
Preparing the eggplant:
  • Eggplant - 1 - of about 400 grams
  • Bread, wholemeal - 2 to 3 slices
  • Eggs - 2
  • Salt - 1 teaspoon 
  • Oil, vegetable - enough to cover the bottom of a large baking dish
Firstly: chop up the eggplant into cubes of about 1 cm and put it into a large bowl; whisk the eggs with the salt and tip over the cubed eggplant and toss it to coat it; whiz the bread into breadcrumbs and tip that over the eggplant and toss it to further coat it.  Pour enough oil into the base of a large baking dish to coat it (heat slightly first if you wish), then tip the eggplant onto it and spread it out.  Bake for about 40 minutes, taking it out once to fork over the eggplant so that it bakes evenly.  It's appearance will be slightly browned when done.

While the eggplant is baking make the sauce:
  • Onion - 1 large 
  • Oil, vegetable - to sauté onions 
  • Capsicum, green or red - 1 
  • Tomatoes - I use a tin of about 400 grams, chopped.  You can use fresh tomatoes but I find the tinned ones cheaper and easier to manage.
  • Pesto or a generous amount of basil
  • Cornflour - 2 rounded teaspoons
  • Water - about a cup
  • Salt - 1 teaspoon
  • Pepper - if you wish
Chop onions and sauté a little before adding the chopped capsicum, then cook thoroughly.  If you don't have pesto add the basil with the capsicum.  Add the tinned chopped tomatoes and salt and simmer well.  Add the pesto.  Put cornflour into a cup and mix into a paste with a little water and then fill up the cup with the remaining water.  Add this to the sauce and cook a little to thicken it.  The sauce needs to be a little bit gluggy but not too much.  If it seems too sticky add more water.  If it seems to watery, cook a little longer.  Test taste to be sure that the flavour is good.

Prepare the two other components:
  • Walnuts, coarsely chopped - 50 grams.  The texture of these is significant so chopping them on a breadboard is more suitable than using a food processor.
  • Cheese, cheddar - grated - 150 grams.  I use Edam, for its low fat content, but expect other cheddar would be fine. 
Putting it together:
Place half the baked eggplant in a large casserole dish
Sprinkle half the walnuts over it
Spoon half the sauce over it, 
Sprinkle half the grated cheese,
Repeat these steps making one more layer and your casserole will then be ready to go into the oven.  

Bake for about 45 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.  You can then let it stand for about ten minutes before serving. 

This dish goes very well with steamed potatoes and lightly cooked cabbage. 

All my other articles about food and favourite recipes can be found via the link below:

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