If your household is anything like mine at least one of your crew may have an aversion to eggplant (or Aubergine if you want to sound a bit posh) but with some gentle persuasion and the delicious fusion of a few other carefully selected ingredients, you’ll have them tucking into these shiny purple oblongs in no time!
Even as an ardent eggplant devotee, I’m the first to admit that if overcooked, undercooked or just cooked devoid of other flavors, they are comparable to chewing a rubbery old football!
It could be that I’m particularly thrilled to be spreading some eggplant love because this year I’ve triumphantly grown a few different varieties – all the way from seed to harvest (thanks to the fabulous team at Kings Seeds where I satisfy my regular seed-fetish cravings).
Growers-gloat aside, it has been my mission for a few years to create a recipe that would win-over my eggplant phobic hubby – purely selfish of course, so I can eat more of them!
The good news is, this one seems to have done the trick! He devoured it with great gusto – possibly due to my cunning plan of serving dinner so late he probably would have eaten the previously mentioned football – but when quizzed on the ‘enjoyment-factor’ I feel there was a genuine ‘nod’ which I will take to be ‘as good as a wink’!
So, here you have it – the perfect (quick, easy and in-expensive) Autumnal meal for eggplant lovers and those yet to be convinced.
Brons Eggplant & Chicken Pile-up
Serves 4. Prep-time 10mins. Cook-time 30mins.
1 large or two small eggplants – sliced length-ways – 1cm thick
1 small chilli – finely diced, seeds in or out depending on your “hot” factor
2 free range chicken breasts – cut into 1cm cubes (use tofu here for vegetarian option)
1 T pinenuts – lightly toasted
1 cup spinach - roughly chopped
3 T ricotta or cottage cheese
1 tin cherry tomatoes or equivalent home-roasted when you have them in season
1 T Parmesan Cheese - grated
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 180 C.
Place a large frypan over medium heat and add a good glug of olive oil then cook sliced eggplant for a few minutes on each side until tender and nicely browned – you may need to do this in batches. Remove from pan, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Using the same frypan, add a dash more olive oil then the chilli and cubed chicken and cook on medium heat until chicken is almost done. (Note: if using Tofu for a vegetarian option, cut tofu into cubes and lightly coat with a little cornflour, salt, pepper and fry until crispy and nicely browned). Now add the roasted pinenuts and roughly chopped spinach and continue cooking for another 2 minutes until spinach has wilted. Remove from heat and place into a bowl before stirring through the ricotta or cottage cheese.
Pour tomatoes into shallow oven dish then gently press 4 slices of eggplant into the tomato without letting it ooze over the top. Now spoon generous dollops of the chicken mixture over the eggplant and place another eggplant slice on top to create the “pile-up”. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake in pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes. Just enough time to heat through while you enjoy a wee glass of wine. Remove when the parmesan has gone a little brown and crispy and serve with a simple green salad or whatever you have that needs using up in the fridge.