Baby Eggplant, Summer Tomatoes and Basil Casserole is a perfect dish to serve on a cool spring or summer evening. This would be great as a vegetarian main course or as a side dish with your favorite meat. Everything about this dish is fresh from the garden. The tomatoes and basil along with the lemon juice and garlic give the eggplant the added flavor that is needed to bring eggplant up a notch. We are not big eggplant eaters in our house but we did gobble this one up. It was better the second day. If you are looking for something comforting, this is your dish!
Eggplant, also known as Aubergine, garden egg and guinea squash is on the list of the world’s healthiest foods. Eggplant gets a very good rating for a source of dietary fiber, vitamin B1 and copper and a good rating for maganese, vitamin B6, niacin, potassium, folate and vitamin K. Eggplants are also low in calories. It’s a good idea to eat the skin of the eggplant and not peel it because there is a anthocyanin phytonutrient found in the skin called nasunin. Nasunin is a potent antiooxidant and free radical scavenger and is known to protect cell membranes. You can find out more about eggplants here at The World’s Healthiest Foods.
After I made this dish for the first time I felt something was missing and it wasn’t as flavorful as it should be. I noticed that I couldn’t taste the garlic and there was no salt. It could use some more cheese also. So you will see some additions to this recipe and the second time I made the recipe it was much more flavorful. The 2 bunches of basil are very important for the flavor of the dish so buy more than one bunch!
Baby Eggplant, Summer Tomato, and Basil Casserole
8 baby eggplants (6 inches long)
2 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
16 small basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 medium-size bunches fresh basil, stems removed
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or seasoned pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup best-quality olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 rip large tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 bunch fresh thyme, leaves chopped, or 2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Cut the stems from the eggplants and cut each one lengthwise in half.
3. Place the eggplants, skin side down, on a cookie sheet. Make a slit in the center of each eggplant half and insert a garlic sliver and a small basil leaf. Sprinkle with chopped garlic and salt and pepper and drizzle with 1/4 cup of the oil over all the eggplant.
4. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the oven down to 350 degrees F.
5. Place 1 layer of eggplant, skin side down, in a shallow 13×9 inch casserole. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and the salt and pepper. Arrange a layer of half the tomatoes over the eggplant and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and 1/2 cup of the Cheddar. Sprinkle half the thyme evenly over the cheese and completely cover with a layer of basil. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
6. Repeat layers, using the remaining layer ingredients including all the Parmesan and Cheddar.
7. Cover the baking pan tightly with aluminnum foil and bake 45 minutes. Garnish with the parsley and serve immediately.
4 large portions.