Today’s Meatless Monday is Eggplant, Roma Tomatoes and Fresh Basil baked in a casserole with hearty bread, onions, garlic, eggs and cheese. I wish computers had “smell-o-vision,” but since they don’t you need to make this simple dish yourself. It was just fabulous!
This recipe was serendipitous, really. I had several ideas of what I wanted to do for today’s post, but I wasn’t set on anything…always a sign I need to rethink how I want to approach the ingredients I plan to use.
Saturday, I was all ready with my schedule for the day. While cooking and photographing, I planned to watch SEC football and The Hobbit, being a fan of both college football and all things Tolkien. One of the downsides of working from home, though, is that I have lost all track of time and days. The game I intended to watch isn’t until next weekend!
So, rather than punting (football pun intended *wink*) my viewing time, I decided to turn on the Food Network. You’d think, being as obsessed with food as I am, that I would watch cooking shows more often. I really don’t, though. First, I love the quiet much too much to have the television on; Secondly, and for the most part, I tend to want to have ideas that are fresh to me, rather than rehashing recipes you’ve likely already seen.
I was happy I did turn on the Food Network, though. It brought me the inspiration for this recipe. Giada De Laurentiis was making what she called Gruyère and Spinach Bake that she baked in 10″ ramekins. But the recipe was so much like a savory bread pudding that I got me thinking about doing something similar, but with other ingredients that were in line with what I planned to use for this Meatless Monday meal.
I used an elongated skillet to bake mine in, rather than individual ramekins. The more shallow the pan you use, the more surface you will have that is crunchy on top of the soft, moist under-layer. If you want a softer, squishier result with less crunchy top, use a deeper dish pan (and you may need to add some cooking time to ensure the eggs set).
It was delicious. And you need to make it. And you won’t regret it.
p.s.: I am SO going to make those Gruyère Spinach bakes Giada made…they looked fabulous.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ medium-sized onion, diced (about ½ cup)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 medium-sized eggplant, skin on, cut into ½ inch cubes (about 4 cups)
- 6 eggs, beaten
- ¼ cup half and half (or whole milk)
- 3 Roma tomatoes, ½ inch dice (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 4 cups cubed (same size as the eggplant) hearty bread (I used some homemade sourdough)
- 1 cup grated Mozzarella cheese, divided in half
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Prepare an oven-proof baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a skillet, over medium heat, melt the butter.
- Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and allow to cook for about another minute.
- Add the cubed eggplant, cover the skillet and allow to cook for just a couple of minutes...you want the eggplant to JUST begin to soften.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk.
- Add the half and half (or milk) and beat well.
- To the egg mixture, add the tomatoes, basil, slightly cooled eggplant mixture from the skillet, the bread cubes, ½ cup of the Mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, to taste.
- Toss the ingredient with your hands, making sure that all of the bread absorbs some of the egg mixture.
- Pour the contents of the bowl into your prepared baking pan.
- Sprinkle the remaining Mozzarella cheese over the top of the ingredients in the baking pan.
- Place the baking pan into the preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the bread pieces are golden brown, the cheese is melted and the eggs have firmed.
- Note: If you notice that it's browning too quickly during the baking time, cover it with a bit of foil. Be sure to remove the foil in the last minutes to be sure the cheese and bread get golden in color.
- Remove from the oven and serve hot.