After the first week of school, I came down with an annoying cold. I am only starting to learn a bit about Ayurvedic healing, but both my yoga teacher and my acupuncturist suggested that my immune system was being compromised by the recent change in the season, and that it would be a good idea to switch from raw vegetable salads every day for lunch to eating cooked veggies instead.
This recipe was based on a Martha Rose Shulman gem from the NY Times a few years back. I added the layer of basil goat cheese and the yellow peppers- they add another dimension of sweetness. Doesn’t it just look gorgeous? It was super healthy, hearty, and way more filling than a salad could ever be in the middle of my day.
My cold is now long gone and I feel really great, which probably has to do with more than just this eggplant dish, but to me there is pretty much nothing better than cooking food that is both delicious and makes me feel great when I eat it.
- 2 large (or six small) eggplants (1½ lbs), cut in circles ½ inch think
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 small yellow peppers, sliced thin
- 1 large onion, sliced thin
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Pinch of sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
- 3 tbs basil, chopped
- 6 oz. soft goat cheese
- ⅔ cup half-and-half
- 3 tbs parsley, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with aluminum foil, and brush the foil with olive oil. Place the eggplant slices on the foil, dust generously with salt and brush each slice lightly with oil. Place in the oven for 15 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the oven, and carefully another sheet of foil over the eggplant, crimping the edges together so that the eggplant is sealed inside the foil so it will continue to steam and soften. Let sit for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the peppers and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 8 minutes, then add the onions and continue to saute until soft, for around 15 minutes. Add the garlic and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until you can smell the garlic, for about one minute. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, cinnamon, bay leaves, and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and let cook, uncovered and stirring often, for 25 minutes, until the sauce thickens up (you will know it’s thick enough when you’re able to make a canyon in the center of the sauce with a spoon, see picture). Add freshly ground pepper, then taste and adjust the salt again. Remove the bay leaves, stir in the drained chickpeas and off the heat.
- In a small mixing bowl, stir together the basil, goat cheese and half-and-half until evenly combined and smooth, set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 2-quart baking dish. Cover the bottom of the dish with a thin layer of the tomato sauce, then make a layer of half the eggplant. Spoon and spread the whole goat cheese mixture evenly over the eggplant, then half the remaining sauce over that, and repeat adding layers of eggplant and tomato sauce. Top with a few extra nice looking eggplant slices.
- Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbling. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle on the parsley before serving.
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