Hearty vegetables combine with a red sauce and a Panko crumb topping for a delicious meatless meal. If you must have the meat, this would be a fabulous side dish to complement say, Chicken Parmesan or even a piccata dish.
Recently, I had a small eggplant that needed to be used, as well as a package of tri-color peppers I hadn’t used in a crudité. That, and I just happened to have purchased a package of the most beautiful portobello mushrooms. I decided to utilize them all together.
I made my red sauce, super simple and quick. As you can see from the ingredients, I never add sugar to my red sauce. But, I do always add wine. I think it must be the sugars in the wine that counter any acidity from the tomatoes. You could just as easily toss of on jar of your favorite marinara…yes, I heard that many of you do that! 😉
Then, the topping is a simple Panko bread crumb mixture that goes on top prior to baking the dish.
Mr. Saucy is a meat fan. Every so often, although I plan on doing it much more, I slip in a completely meatless meal. Eggplant is one of the really fabulous meat substitutes, as are portobellos; combining the two in this dish really makes for a hearty meal.
The layers of color are so beautiful and the flavors…oh, my…so delicious! Try it!
- FOR THE VEGETABLE LAYER:
- 1 small eggplant, sliced about ¼ inch thick
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced in rings about ¼ inch thick
- 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced in rings about ¼ inch thick
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced in rings about ¼ inch thick
- 3 large portobello mushrooms, sliced about ¼ inch thick
- FOR THE RED SAUCE:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- salt and pepper to taste
- FOR THE CRUMB TOPPING:
- 2 cups Panko bread crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs...can be found in the oriental specialty section of the market)
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 can anchovies, minced (optional)
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- FOR THE EGG PLANT LAYER:
- In a large greased casserole, arrange the eggplant, peppers and mushroom slices...alternating the colors of the peppers...and overlapping the ingredients as pictured.
- FOR THE RED SAUCE:
- In a medium-sized sauce pan, heated on medium heat, add the olive oil, onions and garlic.
- Saute for 2 minutes, or until softened.
- Add the dried spices and continue to saute for one minute.
- Add the remaining red sauce ingredients and simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Pour the red sauce over the layers in the casserole.
- FOR THE TOPPING:
- In a ziplock bag, mix all the ingredients until blended and all the bread crumbs are moistened.
- Pour over the red sauce evenly.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes, or until the contents are bubbling and the crumb mixture is browned. If the crumbs begin browning too quickly, cover with a piece of aluminum foil, remove for the final 10 minutes of cooking.