A Cinderella Eggplant Recipe
By Joy Johnson, Master Gardener
Fall is here, and Joy Johnson’s garden is harvested. She picked and stored her veggies with the best intentions to use them all at their peak of ripeness. But when she found a long, skinny eggplant that she forgot about in the bottom drawer of her refrigerator, she made sure not to waste it. Read Joy’s hearty eggplant recipe that tastes great.
Fall is here, my garden is harvested. I pick and store my veggies with the best intentions to use them all at their peak of ripeness. Then about 3 weeks later I find one or two that I forgot about in the bottom drawer of my refrigerator. This year it was a long skinny eggplant. I can’t stand to waste anything, so here’s a hearty recipe that tastes great. My husband asked me for three days after I made it, if I’d written it down so I wouldn’t forget what I’d done. He would like me to make it again, and that’s saying something since he has often vowed, he doesn’t like eggplant.
Eggplant Chicken Layers with a Crunchy Crust
1 large egg plant or two
2 large chicken breasts
½ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup chopped walnuts
6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 cups tomatoes, I used mostly Cherry tomatoes, but sliced one large also to make enough
2 Tablespoons + 1 Tsp minced garlic
2 Tablespoons dill seed
3 Tablespoons dried parsley
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
½ cup grated Romano cheese
1. Adjust two racks to the top and bottom position of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Pierce the eggplants all over with a fork, and place on the foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Roast on the top rack until completely soft when pierced with a paring knife, 1 hour.
3. Meanwhile, toss the grape tomatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds pepper. Spread on a small baking sheet and roast in the same oven until the tomatoes are soft and wrinkled, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
4. Put the chicken breast in a covered baking dish and bake it at the same time as the eggplant and tomatoes. Let it cool, then slice into thick pieces. Lay them in the bottom of an oiled 2-quart baking dish
5. Mix together the breadcrumbs, walnuts, about one teaspoon garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Drizzle in 3 tablespoons olive oil and mix until the mixture starts to clump. Reserve.
6. When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, halve them and scoop the soft flesh into the bowl with the tomatoes. Discard the skins and stems.
7. Using a fork or spoon, mash the eggplant into smaller bite-sized pieces. (It's okay if the tomatoes get mashed in the process.) Add the garlic, dill and parsley, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Check for seasoning and add more salt, if needed.
8. Spread the eggplant tomato mixture over the sliced chicken breast pieces in the casserole dish.
9. Sprinkle cheddar and Romano cheese on top
10. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top
11. Bake about 30-35 minutes until the top is golden brown
This was truly a garden to kitchen meal! I served it with homemade chunky cinnamon applesauce, with a sprinkling of a few late golden raspberries, home grown yellow beans, and homemade bread and butter pickles.
Photo credits: Joy Johnson (all)