…it’s a very sloppy, flavour-kick-in-the-tip-of-your-tongue, eggplant parmesan, but so richly textured and deeply flavoured you’ll want some bread and pasta to have with it. Also, it has cauliflower in it (which makes it less kick-in-the-tip-of-your-tongue-y). Weird, I know…but I actually think the flavours were pretty amazing. Also, this isn’t that expensive, despite the use of parmesan and shallots and garlic in this…
While it does take a bit of effort to prep all the ingredients beforehand, then take the time to bake it until the cheese bubbles and forms that perfect golden crust, it is the ultimate comfort food and worthy of your patience. You can build up your layers even more and improvise the order of the layers and how you want to build it up…the flavours are all there!
Eggplant layer bake
serves 2 as a side
1 small eggplant or 1/2 a large eggplant, sliced into 1cm slices
1/4 head of cauliflower, chopped into walnut-sized florets
salt and pepper to taste
1c grated edam or mozarella cheese
1/3c finely grated parmesan
fresh herbs to top
basil pesto (optional)
For the tomato sauce:
1 small onion
at least 3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 shallot, chopped finely (or use one medium onion instead of a small one)
1 Tbs capers (optional)
4 tomatoes, chopped, or a can of chopped tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper
splash red wine vinegar
about 1/4c cream (optional)
In a medium non stick frypan, heat a teaspoon of oil on medium heat. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and arrange the eggplant slices on one layer (there may be some leftover, in which case you’ll have to do this in two lots or use a larger frypan if you have one). Let cook until the slices are golden on the bottom, then flip, and cook until the undersides are golden. Set aside on a plate you’ll eat off later (just to save you some washing up :))
Re-oil the pan, add another pinch of salt and pepper, and throw in your cauliflower florets. Let cook on medium to medium-high heat to lightly brown edges, flipping and/or tossing every now and then to ensure even cooking. Once it starts going translucent and changing to a pale green, set aside with the eggplant slices. Turn heat down to low, and ensure the pan is down to a low heat before continuing.
Preheat oven to 180C (350F), with a rack arranged at the very top. Add capers, onions, garlic, and shallots to the pan with a teaspoon of oil, and let happily cook away, stirring every now and then, until golden (you can chop the tomatoes during this time). Once golden, add the tomatoes, cream, herbs, and other ingredients for the sauce. Bring to a simmer and let cook until thickened to your liking.
While the sauce is bubbling away, you can grate your cheeses! Layer half the eggplant at the bottom, then smear with half the pesto. Sprinkle a tiny bit of cheese over (either parmesan or mozarella), then half the tomato sauce. Add all the cauliflower, then smear with the second half of basil pesto. Dump the rest of the tomato sauce on, smearing it out evenly. Distribute parmesan evenly on one layer, then layer the second half of the eggplant on. Top with the rest of the edam cheese and fresh herbs. Pop in the oven on the top rack for 25-35 mins, until the cheese has goldenified to your liking. The one in the picture was a little overdone actually, but go as golden as you please :). As mentioned before, serve with bread or potatoes or perhaps even atop some pasta.