Baked Eggplant and Peppers

Eggplant varieties

Eggplant and peppers, two companionable vegetables, are combined in a delicious casserole with a creamy, cheesy (vegan) topping. Serve with a simple grain or pasta dish and a colorful salad augmented by beans or chickpeas.

Serves: 6 to 8

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 large or 2 smaller eggplants, any variety,
    about 1 1/2 pounds total, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ or quinoa flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 medium green bell peppers, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 1 1/2 cups diced ripe tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached white flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened rice milk or other nondairy milk
  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella-style vegan cheese
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat half the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat until the onion begins to turn golden.

Add the eggplant and just enough water to keep the bottom of the skillet moist. Cover and cook, stirring frequently. When the eggplant is about half done, stir in the basil and cumin. Cook until the eggplant is tender, adding small amounts of water as needed while cooking to keep the skillet moist. Stir in the wheat germ and season with salt and pepper.

Lightly oil a large, shallow baking casserole and pat the eggplant mixture into it.

Rinse the skillet and heat the remaining oil. Add the peppers and sauté over high heat, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown lightly. Lower the heat, stir in the tomatoes, and sauté for a minute or two, just until they begin to soften.

Slowly sprinkle in the flour, stirring until it disappears. Then, slowly, stir in the rice milk and bring to a simmer. Sprinkle in the cheese, a bit at a time, followed by the cayenne. Let the mixture simmer until thickened and the cheese is completely melted.

Pour the peppers mixture over the eggplant. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and bubbly. Let cool for 10 minutes, then scoop out sections with a spatula to serve.

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