I am one of those people that crave eggplant. Don’t know when that happened because I can assure you there was a long time I wouldn’t even consider putting a piece of eggplant in my mouth. Is it the color? Is it the texture? Is it the bad reputation? Whatever, I got over it and now I am a true eggplant lover. (I make a killer eggplant parm – baked, not fried….)
This is delicious as a side dish but it is hearty enough for an entrée – I could eat the entire thing. It’s cheesy, chewy and filled with spices. If you are not an eggplant eater, maybe this will entice you….
Here’s what you need:
All these amounts can be varied according to your taste – this is a good balance, but more rice is always good too. And less cheese if you’re watching the calories.
1 large eggplant or 2 smaller ones
2 C chopped onions
12 oz mushrooms, chopped
5-6 medium cloves garlic, minced
½ C raw, wild rice (I have used brown rice here, but wild rice is outstanding in this dish. I actually found it in a small box in the grocery, just the right amount – no waste….)
1 ½ C cottage cheese (large curd, low fat is fine)
1 C grated cheddar cheese
2 T sunflower seeds
1 T sesame seeds
2 T olive oil
1 t salt
1 t dried basil
½ t dried thyme
½ t dried oregano
¼ t crushed red pepper flakes
Here’s what you do:
Make the rice according to the directions. Basically, it’s ½ C raw rice in 1 ½ C boiling water. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes. It’s really chewy and nutty tasting. Be sure to wash the rice beforehand... and make sure the pan does not dry out while simmering.... babysit it.
Peel the eggplant and chop all the veggies. It’s a mess and it takes a while. Sautee all the veggies with the spices, salt and garlic in the olive oil for about 20 – 25 minutes until it is all one beautiful thing. It really cooks down, so don’t be alarmed at first at the huge amount of veggies.
In a big bowl combine the sautéed veggies, the cheeses, the cooked rice and the seeds.
Bake in a greased casserole for about 30 minutes or until bubbly.
This is one of my favorites. I prefer it the next day for a gourmet lunch and I usually serve it with roasted tomatoes.