On a trip to the grocery store this weekend, I saw a big, beautiful eggplant (aubergine), that I decided to get. I had never cooked or eaten one before. I know-why would I buy it then, you might ask? See, I have this thing with experimenting with food in my kitchen. Sometimes my little kitchen experiments are an epic fail, and sometimes I end up with a delicious meal.The epic fails never make it on this blog. They go to bad dish heaven. What I put on here are only the successful experiments and the tested, tried and true recipes. In this case, I ended up with something delicious! No fancy names for it this time, I'll just call it what it is-an eggplant and turkey sausage casserole. It started with an eggplant, and then fried onions, tomato sauce and turkey joined the party. The reviews? From my 8 year-old son: "By the way mommy, this is awesome!" Enough said! Here's the recipe:
SERVING SIZE: Feeds 6-8 sufficiently.
-9x13 oven-safe baking dish.
-2 Frying pans.
-4 wide bowls for dredging your onions and your eggplants.
-A pair of tongs (or you can use a fork).
-mandolin (or very sharp knife and cutting board to thinly slice our onions and eggplant).
-1 medium onion, thinly sliced into rings.
-1 can coconut milk (divided in half and poured into two separate bowls).
-1 cup all-purpose flour (divided in half and placed in two separate bowls).
-1 cup oil (divided in two and reserved).
-1 large eggplant (peeled, and thinly sliced as shown below).
-1 package sausage crumbles (I used turkey sausage crumbles).
-1 bottle Italian tomato sauce of your choice (at least 7.5 OZ.)
-1 package shredded cheese of your choice (I used Velveeta as that's what I had at hand).
-Spices for coating onion rings: 1 teaspoon salt (I use Kosher salt), 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon all-purpose seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon garam masala.
-Spices for coating the eggplant: 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon coriander powder and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger.
***Heat up 1/2 cup of cooking oil in the frying pan on medium heat until the oil is hot***
INSTRUCTIONS FOR COATING AND COOKING THE ONION RINGS:
-In one of the bowls of flour, add 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of all-purpose seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon garam masala. Mix the flour and spices well.
-Allow the sliced onions to sit in one of the bowl of coconut milk for around 5 minutes. Use the tongs to turn the onions in the coconut milk to make sure they are well coated in the milk.
-Using your tongs, transfer the onions to the above bowl of seasoned flour and make sure they are well coated. Shake off any excess flour.
-Transfer the coated onion rings to the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Once golden brown, place them on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Set aside.
***In the second frying pan, heat the other 1/2 cup of cooking oil in medium heat***
INSTRUCTIONS FOR COATING AND COOKING THE EGGPLANT:
-Allow the eggplant slices to sit in the coconut milk for two minutes at a time on both sides (Do not overcrowd the bowl).
-Using your tongs, dredge the eggplant slices through the seasoned eggplant flour (to this bowl of flour add: 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon coriander powder and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and mix well).
-Shake off any excess seasoning and fry in the oil until the edges of the eggplant slices are crisp.
-Place the fried eggplant slices on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
***PRE-HEAT YOUR OVEN TO 375 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT***
ASSEMBLING THE DISH:
-At the bottom of your baking dish, lay the fried eggplant slices in a single layer as shown below.
-Sprinkle the sausage crumbles over top of the eggplant layer as shown in the picture below.
-Spread a spoonful of tomato sauce over the eggplant, bacon and cheese layer.
-Repeat these layers: eggplant, sausage, cheese, tomato sauce and the very top layer should be cheese sprinkled over the tomato sauce. Cover with aluminium foil and place in the middle rack of the oven. Bake for one hour (or until he food separates from the sides of the baking dish).
-Let the casserole cool down for 10 minutes after removing it from the oven as it will be hot.
I served mine with some collard greens for dinner last night. Today my hubby came home with a huge eggplant, a big smile and a request for the same dish again sometime soon :-) This was THAT good! Enjoy!