Eggplant’s exquisite creaminess shines in this luscious dish. Caramelized sweet onion, heirloom tomatoes, sweet mini bell peppers, and garlic are sandwiched between splayed slices of eggplant, softened on the stovetop, then braised in their own juices in a hot oven. This literally melts in your mouth. It is delicious plated with a good smear of Garlic-Herb Sauce, which plays counterpoint to the eggplant’s sweetness. Modern varieties of eggplant are not bitter and require no pre-salting or peeling.
6 firm medium Italian eggplants
3 sweet onions like Vidalia, Maui, or Walla Walla, cut in ½-inch slices
3 large heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes, cut in ½-inch slices
8 ounces mini bell peppers (a mixture of colors), cored and seeded
1 head dry-roasted garlic
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
Up to 2 cups no-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup Garlic-Herb Sauce
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Trim the tough outer layer of each eggplant’s stem, then make lengthwise slits ½-inch apart from their bases to 1 inch from the top. Fill the slits in the eggplants alternately with the onions, tomatoes, and mini peppers, slipping in the roasted garlic cloves.
- Tightly arrange the stuffed eggplants in one large or two smaller ovenproof skillets and season them generously with oregano (½ teaspoon per eggplant) and several grinds of black pepper. Add broth to come ½ inch up the sides of the pan, cover, and simmer on the stovetop for 30 minutes. Check periodically, adding more liquid if needed. Begin checking at 20 minutes; the eggplants are ready when a fork easily penetrates the flesh.
- Remove the cover. The vegetables will have released additional liquid. Pour out the excess, leaving ½ inch of juice in the pan. Bake the eggplants, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. If liquid continues to build, remove the excess again, leaving just ½ inch in the pan. Brush the vegetables with their braising liquid and return to the oven for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until the onions, peppers, and tomatoes have caramelized and the eggplants have begun to collapse.
- Remove them from the oven and brush with braising liquid. Serve hot with plenty of Garlic-Herb Sauce, either thickly smeared on the plate or diluted with water into a pourable sauce to dress the eggplant.
Cathy Katin-Grazzini is a plant-based chef and cookbook author of Love the Foods that Love You Back. She is Food Editor for VEGWORLD magazine, and manages her blog, Cathy’s Kitchen Prescription, where she shares her latest recipes and guidance on sustainable, healthy, vegan cooking, nutrition, and lifestyle. Certified in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies at Cornell, she went on to complete professional culinary training at Rouxbe Cooking School. Katin-Grazzini is a member of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and trained as a PCRM Food for Life instructor. She and her husband, Giordano Katin-Grazzini, who photographed the cookbook, live in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
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