Veggie Cook

Eggplant, tomato create layers of flavor

By Kay Stepkin, Special to Tribune Newspapers

September 4, 2013


Ever find eggplant a hard sell? I have a suggestion: Make sure you choose the right recipe. Once named "mad apple" for its prickly, bitter skin, this versatile veggie has become the star in a range of recipes. I love how the vegetable absorbs the flavors of herbs and spices in any preparation.

Eggplant's firm texture holds up to baking, broiling and grilling. Chopped eggplant adds body to flavorful stews from every culture or mashes into a dip. But don't forget to try different varieties of eggplant with yellow, purple or white skins to color any dish, including this layered eggplant and tomato version.

Choose shiny eggplant that is heavy for its size and has end leaves still fresh and green. Use this topping to create a wonderful bruschetta. Just substitute toasted French bread slices for the pasta. Cut the eggplant into smaller pieces, and mix the vegetables together.

Eggplant layers with fresh tomato sauce

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Servings: 4


8 ounces whole wheat linguine or fettuccine
2 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 eggplant, about 1 1/4 pounds, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 pound plum tomatoes, cored, diced
¼ cup each, finely sliced: basil, parsley
1 teaspoon drained capers
Freshly ground pepper

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta; cook until al dente. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, combine the oil and garlic in a bowl. Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with the oil; place on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake until golden and tender, turning the slices after 30 minutes, about 45 minutes.

3. Mix tomatoes, basil, parsley, capers, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper together in a large bowl.

4. Remove baking sheet from oven. Leave the eggplant slices on the sheet; spread about 1 tablespoon tomato mixture on top of each slice. Layer the slices 3 high. Toss the pasta with remaining tomato mixture. Divide the pasta among 4 shallow bowls; serve the stacked eggplant slices over the pasta.

Nutrition information:
Per serving: 303 calories, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 53 g carbohydrates, 11 g protein, 385 mg sodium, 12 g fiber.

Kay Stepkin is a vegetarian cooking instructor and former owner of a vegetarian restaurant/whole-grain bakery. Email her at foods@tribune.com.