If you are an OFL, you will know that I mentioned an eggplant casserole recipe I devised to make another use of the abundant harvest of eggplants my brother has right now. This recipe can be eaten without putting the final cheese on it and browning in the oven. Then it is a side dish. With the cheese and little bit of oven bake, it adds to your fat consumption and becomes a casserole. So, here it is- feel free to tweak with your own preferences of herbs and seasonings.
1 medium eggplant or 2 small, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes (I avoid using very large eggplants because they tend to be bitter.)
Note: If you have purchased your eggplant in a grocery store and have no idea about shipping and storage time, it's best to peal and cube and soak in heavily salted water for about 1/2 hour before cooking.Then rinse and continue with the recipe. This helps to remove bitter taste.
1/2 medium white onion diced or cut into very thin slices
1 small green bell pepper diced
1 sweet banana pepper diced (another very small bell pepper or 1/2 of a larger one will do as well- I just have lots of banana peppers, courtesy of Marc's garden)
1 clove garlic minced
1 - 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil- use plain olive oil, not virgin or extra virgin- you don't want the stronger olive flavor of virgin oils in this dish.
1 chicken bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon of chicken base
1 15- 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes ( if using fresh, 2 - 3 medium diced tomatoes will do nicely- sadly, tomato season is over here.)
1 teaspoon each basil and parsley (dried)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried onion bits
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (optional and omit if on phase one- it does contain a wee bit of sugar)
Salt and pepper to taste (add this at the last of simmering)
Preheat saute' pan to medium heat and add all ingredients except tomatoes and chicken base. Saute' till onions begin to turn translucent, and add tomatoes. Add tomatoes and chicken base- simmer for at least 25 - 30 minutes on medium low temp or until all veggies are cooked through, but not mushy. Most of the tomato liquid should have cooked out at this point.
Now, it is your choice: serve this as a side dish or continue for a casserole. If doing the casserole, pour the eggplant mixture into a 9 x 9 baking dish or whatever holds it nicely, and cover with cheese of your choice. I used a 6 cheese Italian blend and then sprinkled dried parmesan over the top of that. Place under your oven broiler (not too close to the broiler- about the middle of the oven) and broil till cheese is melted and beginning to brown. Take out of the oven and let it sit for a few minutes and serve. Enjoy!