Eggplant is strange. It’s the odd uncle of the vegetable kingdom. See it at a dinner party and you’re likely to avoid it out of fear of the unknown. And you might be right to do so. When prepared poorly, eggplant is little more than a bland watery sponge. But, sometimes you end up in a conversation with that weird uncle and find out he’s the most fascinating man in the room. That, my dear friends, is the story of the misunderstood eggplant.
I hope, with this recipe, to demystify the vegetable for you. When roasted and bathed in tomatoes, basil and caramelized onions, eggplant makes a perfect casserole. Delicate without being watery, hearty without being heavy, it’s a wonderful side dish and a filling entree. Serve it hot or room temperature, this is a fantastic dish for entertaining. Eggplant, you are indeed a most fascinating uncle of vegetation.
Special thanks to our sponsor, Crunchmaster, for providing the inspiration and supplies for our crisp casserole topping. Crushed Crunchmaster crackers with garlic and olive oil, lightly browned in the oven-it’s a splendid way to finish this dish. Watch the video above to get all the details!
Free of Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Nuts, Eggs. Vegan.
- 1 Large Yellow Onion
- Olive Oil
- 1 Large Eggplant
- ½ cup Coarse Corn Meal, separated in half
- Handful of fresh Basil
- 12-15 Kalamata Olives, Pitted
- 1 28-ounce can Chopped Tomatoes
- 1 package Crunchmaster Original Multi-Seed Crackers
- 3 cloves Garlic
- 2-3 tablespoons Olive Oil
- Start by caramelizing your onion. This will take some time so you may want to make a giant batch, they freeze brilliantly. Slice your onion as thinly as possible. Heat some olive oil in a pot over medium heat and toss in the onions. Drop the heat to low and stir the onions occasionally as they reduce. You’re looking for onions with a golden/bronze shimmer, it may take as long as 45 minutes (depending on how low the heat is set and how many onions you choose to work with). Set the caramelized onion aside.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut off the top of the eggplant and slice the body into 1-2 inch cubes (precision not necessary, put away the ruler). Put the cubes in a 8×8 baking dish and drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Slide the dish into your oven to roast for 25 minutes, or until the eggplant is slightly wrinkelled.
- Dust the top of the roasted eggplant with ¼ cup of the corn meal (half of the total amount). Spread your caramelized onion over that, using your fingers to evenly distribute the gold. Next, chop the basil and pitted olives (roughly) and scatter them over the onions.
- Scatter the remaining ¼ cup cornmeal over everything and grind some black pepper into the dish. Pour the can of chopped tomatoes into the casserole and give the dish a shake to settle the liquid. Bake the dish at 400 degrees for another 25 minutes.
- While the casserole is baking, make the topping! Crush the crackers until they are the size of small pebbles. Chop the garlic and toss it with the crackers, using the 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil to bind everything.
- After 25 minutes, take the casserole out of the oven and top it with the crushed crackers. Bake the casserole for another 10-15 minutes or until the crackers are lightly browned (but not burned!).
- Remove and serve. Eat it.
Prep. Time: 1 hour (mostly caramelizing onions)
Baking Time: ~1 hour
Yield: 1 8×8 dish