Here it is, Wednesday, hump day of the week-long Tabasco 10 Ingredient Blogger Challenge (see Monday’s post on Spicy Chocolate Meringue Cookies for the full breakdown of the challenge). So far we’ve done cookies and seafood and now we’re on to a vegetarian casserole of eggplant and tomato sauce. Usually my consumption of eggplant involves some kind of cheese or pasta, so it took me a minute to decide what to use the eggplant for other than a straight up roasted or grilled eggplant. I was pondering the idea of an eggplant tomato stack and then was into contemplating layers, which led me to this casserole, which is kind of like a lasagna, where eggplant is used instead of pasta.
While cheese is one of my great joys in life, it’s nice having a lighter option for my eggplant. (Although, if you are absolutely desperate for cheese, I suspect that a little fresh mozzarella would be mighty tasty.) I also like that this is a vegetarian recipe, which means I can whip it up for those times when I need a vegetarian option. Since it will work as either an entree or a side dish, it’s pretty versatile. If you want to make the casserole vegan, just use a different bread for the topping. Brioche is an enriched dough, which means it has eggs in it and it wouldn’t be nice to serve that to the vegans in your life.
- 2 medium Eggplant
- 2 Tbsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil, plus more for greasing the casserole dish
- ¼ tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
- Tomato Sauce
- 3 packages Cherry Tomatoes (10.5 oz each, red, yellow, or assorted)
- 1½ Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1½ tsp Sugar
- ¾ tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Tabasco
- 12 large Basil Leaves, chiffonade
- Bread Crumb Topping
- Enough stale Brioche to create 1 C bread crumbs. (You can use rolls or sliced loaf brioche)
- 2 tsp Olive Oil
- 1 tsp minced Basil
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Cut the tops and bottoms off of the eggplant and then slice the eggplant lengthwise into ¼" planks.
- Sprinkle the eggplant liberally with the salt (you can use more that the 2 Tbsp if needed), making sure to get both sides of the eggplant slices, and set them out on a wire rack (you may want to place paper towels beneath the rack). Let them sit for 30 minutes and then rinse the slices well.
- Press the eggplant slices between paper towels to get rid of excess moisture. Then lay the slices out on the baking sheets, lightly brush with oil and dust them with pepper.
- Roast the eggplant slices in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
- While the eggplant is sweating and roasting, you can prepare the tomato sauce. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and add them to a sauce pan, along with the olive oil, sugar and salt. Simmer the tomatoes, stirring periodically. They will release a lot of liquid and you'll need to simmer them down until you reach the consistency of a light tomato sauce. At this point, stir in the Tabasco sauce.
- To make the breadcrumbs, pulverize the stale brioche in a food processor until you get coarse crumbs. Pour the crumbs into a small bowl and rub the olive oil and basil into the bread crumbs with your fingers.
- Oil a small casserole dish with olive oil and then add ⅓ of the eggplant to create a layer in the bottom of the dish. Spread ¼ of the tomato sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle ⅓ of the basil over the sauce. Repeat with a second and third layer of the eggplant, tomato sauce and basil, reserving the remaining tomato sauce for serving.
- Spread the bread crumbs over the top of the casserole and then bake in the 425 degree F oven for approximately 20 minutes - until the breadcrumbs are browned and the sauce is hot and bubbly.
- Let the casserole sit for at least 10 minutes before serving and then serve with the extra tomato sauce.
2. The Tabasco is subtle in this recipe. If you are looking for more heat, add more Tabasco sauce until you find the amount of heat you like.
3. Your sauce should be thicker than the broth-like sauce pictured in the recipe. I watered it down a bit for aesthetic purposes in the photographs...
4. The estimated 1 hour prep time includes both the time when the eggplant is resting and the initial 15 minute roasting.
5. Salting and resting the eggplant draws out excess moisture, as well as some of the bitterness. You won't need to season the eggplant with salt later on, because it will retain some of the salt from the sweating process.
If you liked this recipe, you may enjoy the following:
Eggplant Parmesan | Peaches Please
Layered Eggplant and Zucchini Casserole | Oh She Glows
Eggplant Parmigiana Pasta Casserole | Cupcakes and Kale Chips
Eggplant Parmesan | Gourmet Persuasion
Want to see what the rest of the bloggers in the Tabasco Ten Ingredient Challenge are cooking up?
This post is sponsored by Tabasco. All opinions, photographs and words are my own.