Have you noticed that we have a fondness for eggplant? They are so versatile, and so very delicious. This fruit (yes! eggplant is a fruit, and botanically a species of nightshade, a family of flowering plants) can be treated in all sorts of ways, including being fried for eggplant chips, stuffed in yemista, and even used as a substitute for crostini! It also plays well with others, and in this baked vegetable dish, it is combined with zucchini and potato to make one of our families most favourite dishes. We are so excited to share it!
You will notice that this recipe requires that you use our previously shared chunky tomato sauce recipe. This is pretty non-negotiable, and substituting any other tomato sauce may be fine, but it won’t be the same. Our parents’ chunky tomato sauce is thick, rich, sweet and loaded with intense flavour making it lovely with the vegetables. There are many uses for this chunky tomato sauce, and this recipe is just one of them. Fortunately, you can make a batch of this sauce and keep it in the fridge for quite a while.
In this recipe, the vegetables (and fruit!), are first fried, and then placed in the roasting pan where they will be covered with the chunky tomato sauce and baked for a short while. When our parents place the ingredients into the pan, they do so in an organized manner, keeping the eggplant, zucchini and potatoes separate. Not only does this satisfy any obsessive organizational needs, but it also allows everyone to enjoy this dish; keeping things separate means you can stick to what you might like, and avoid the rest. Like Neopolitan ice cream, where you can choose to enjoy only the chocolate ice cream, leaving behind the vanilla and strawberry (silly), the way this dish is baked allows you to perhaps eat only the potatoes, leaving the eggplant and zucchini behind (even sillier).
The recipe tells you to fry first the potato, then the zucchini and finally the eggplant. This is important, since this order will ensure that the oil does not pick up the strong flavour of the eggplant, and then impart it to the other vegetables which could be fried afterwards.
Although this meal is delicious when it is just out of the oven, it is also pretty amazing the next day, either at room temperature or even slightly chilled from the refrigerator. We love to eat it with some crusty bread and feta cheese. Sometimes, we even turn it into a pretty decadent sandwich, piling the baked goodness between two slices of bread and allowing the sauce to drip down our chins. Not classy…but delicious.
Mia Kouppa:Eggplant, zucchini and potato bake
- 5 small sized eggplants, or 2 medium sized
- 2 large sized zucchini, or 4-5 small/medium size
- 4-5 medium sized potatoes
- Vegetable oil for frying For the tomato sauce
- 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) of chunky tomato sauce
- 2 fresh basil leaves
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 sprig of dry rosemary
- 1 – 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
- Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, and then cut each half into lengthwise strips. Soak them in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes, changing the water at the 15 minute mark.
- Drain the eggplant, and toss them with 1/2 tablespoon salt. Allow to sit for approximately 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare your potatoes. Peel potatoes and cut them into lengthwise wedges.
- Prepare your zucchini by cutting each one in half widthwise, and then cutting each half into spears. Set aside.
- Heat enough oil in a medium sized frying pan so that it is 1 inch deep. Over medium heat, fry the potatoes until golden brown and soft on the inside, about 10 – 15 minutes. Remove from the oil and let drain on a paper towel lined dish (to soak up the excess oil). Sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Toss the zucchini with 1/2 teaspoon salt and add them to the frying pan. Cook until they are golden brown, about 5 – 7 minutes. Remove from oil and allow to drain on a paper towel lined dish.
- Next you will fry the eggplant. Prior to adding the eggplant to the frying pan, squeeze out any excess water. Fry for approximately 10 minutes, turning so that they are golden brown on all sides. Allow to drain on a paper towel lined dish.
- Prepare your tomato sauce. In a saucepan, combine the chunky tomato sauce, fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced garlic, sprig of rosemary, bay leaves and olive oil. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Now it is time to assemble your meal in the baking dish. Very lightly oil the bottom of your roasting pan with vegetable oil. To your roasting pan add the zucchini, potatoes and eggplant, keeping each vegetable separate from the other. Spoon the tomato sauce over the vegetables.
- Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until just heated through. Enjoy.