Eggplant and Tomato Bake

DSC03725If you aren’t okay with oil, this is the wrong recipe for you.

At least the way I do it.  I fry my eggplant in loads of coconut oil.  I like it saturated. I personally, don’t feel guilty about it.  Why?  Well, coconut oil has medium-length fatty acids (as opposed to longer-chained fatty acids prevalent in many other oils), making coconut oil easier to break down and less likely to turn into stored fats. You’ll need to make sure you use virgin coconut oil, but that oil gets broken down quickly by the liver and can be used immediately for energy, helping with metabolism, and helping you burn more calories. Additionally, the fatty acids in coconut oil also slightly reduce your appetite, due tot he way the body metabolizes the fats. And my person favorite reason to love on coconut oil – the Lauric Acid that comprises around 50% of coconut oil’s fatty acids is anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral; the consumption of coconut oil therefor can help reduce pathogens in the body and prevent infection.

My eggplant frying, cheese grating, and DSC03798bread crumb sprinkling was accompanied by the sounds of Ugly Cassanova’s album Sharpen Your Teeth, a group at that time comprised of Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse, John Orth of Holopaw, Pall Jenkins of the Black Heart Procession, Tim Rutili of Califone and Red Red Meat and Brian Deck of Red Red Meat. The album was just re-released on vinyl from Sub Pop last week, and the first rounds of the limited-edition are a super sweet tie-dye looking yellow-ish vinyl. My copy just arrived  in the mail yesterday from my pre-order a few months ago, and I am a super happy and mellow girl in my kitchen on this rainy day.

Ingredients:

  • 5 tbsp. virgin coconut oil (or more if you’re not scared!)
  • 2 medium-large eggplants
  • 4-5 medium-large tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (split into four DSC03729parts, the the first three 1/4 cup each, the last 1/2 cup)
  • 1 white onion
  • 2 medium-sized bell peppers
  • 2-3 small zucchinis
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 28 oz. can diced and cooked tomatoes
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese *I’ve also substituted goat cheese, which I often have in the house, and it works well, though it has a lighter consistency)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Cut eggplant into discs and fry one layer at a time in a skillet or cast iron pan on medium heat. Flip after 2-3 minutes, and fry other side.  once first batch is finished, add additional oil, and repeat with another batch of eggplant, adding coconut oil as necessary.  In a medium-sized frying pan, this will likely take three batches. Set on a plate to cool as each batch is completed. DSC03728
  • Lay one half of the fried eggplant into a 9″x 13″ pan, greased with coconut oil. Set the other half aside.
  • Salt and pepper the eggplant.
  • Sprinkle 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs on top of eggplant.
  • Slice tomatoes. Use half of sliced tomatoes (set the other half aside), and layer on top of eggplant. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs on top of tomatoes. DSC03739
  • Stir fry chopped onion in 1/2 tbsp of oil for 5 minutes, or until onion is beginning to be translucent (I used a purple onion because I was gifted one by a dear friend our her garden and I love the color, but I’d recommend using white) DSC03734
  • Add chopped bell peppers and sliced zucchini, and stir fry for an additional 5 minutes. DSC03736
  • Add garlic at the very end and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Season vegetables with oregano, thyme, salt and pepper.
  • Layer the fried vegetables on top of tomatoes, using full amount. DSC03852
  • Drizzle 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese on top of vegetables.
  • Spread 1/2 of 28 oz. can of tomatoes on top of ricotta. DSC03737
  • Add the last of the sliced tomatoes, and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup of bread crumbs. DSC03854
  • Drizzle last 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese on top of vegetables.
  • Spread second 1/2 of can of tomatoes on top of ricotta.
  • Lay down remaining eggplant pieces.
  • Mix last  1/4 cup of bread crumbs with the Parmesan cheese, juice of lemon, lemon zest, and drizzle of olive oil together in a bowl. Drizzle over entire dish. DSC03856
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake at 50 degrees for 10 minutes. DSC03883
  • Serve with a side, and enjoy getting a huge dose of your garden vegetables all in one sitting!
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