I’m a lazy cook. I’m constantly combining steps so that I can get dinner on the table in as little time and with as few pots and pans dirtied as possible (though D, our resident dishwasher, would tell you that I don’t always do a good job at that last goal).
Last night I started cooking with the noble intention of making stuffed baby eggplants, but somewhere along the line I just lost my enthusiasm. I think it was when I saw the 12 baby eggplant halves all lined up on the cutting board waiting for me to carefully carve out their insides–it suddenly looked like just too much work. After all, it was just a casual meal for the three of us, no one to impress (except for you, dear readers). I got to thinking that I could simply layer slices of the eggplants with the filling between them, and it would taste the same as stuffed eggplants with much less work. So that’s what I did. I took the eggplant halves and sliced each one again, steamed them lightly so that they would cook completely, and baked them with the filling in a casserole. And it was delicious!
Unstuffed Baby Eggplants
(click for printer-friendly version)
Baby eggplants are layered between an aromatic mixture of lentils, tomatoes, mint, and spices. If you can’t find baby eggplants, one large eggplant will do.
- 6 baby eggplants, stems removed and sliced into quarters lengthwise (about 1/3-inch thick)
- 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
- 1 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- cayenne pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt to taste
- 1/2 to 1 cup bread crumbs (may use gluten-free or omit)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (optional)
- olive oil spray
- Prepare the baby eggplants by cutting off the stem and then slicing them lengthwise into about 4 slices, approximately 1/3-inch thick. Place the slices in a steamer basket, and steam them for 10 minutes, or until slices are softened but still firm enough to handle. Do not over-cook. Set aside to cool.
- While the eggplant is steaming, put the lentils in a saucepan with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until they are tender yet still hold their shape, about 20-30 minutes. When they’re done, remove from heat, add the one teaspoon of salt, if you like, and allow them to sit in their cooking water until needed.
- In a large, non-stick skillet, sauté the onion until it is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, paprika, allspice, cumin, and black pepper. Drain the liquid from the lentils and add them to the skillet. Add cayenne pepper to taste (I used about 1/8 teaspoon for my mild version). Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the parsley, mint, lemon juice, and salt to taste.
- Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray an 8-inch square baking dish with olive oil. Line the bottom of the dish with half of the eggplant slices. Spoon half of the lentil mixture over the eggplant slices. Repeat with remaining eggplant and lentils. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake covered for 25 minutes.
- Remove the aluminum foil and bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
- Combine the bread crumbs with the parsley and the optional flax seed, and sprinkle it evenly over the top the the casserole. Spray lightly with olive oil and return to the oven. Cook until the top is medium-brown, about 5 to 10 minutes. Cut into about 6 squares and serve.
Preparation time: 30 minute(s) | Cooking time: 1 hour(s) 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
Makes about 6 servings. Per serving (including bread crumbs and flax seeds): 200 Calories (kcal); 2g Total Fat; (8% calories from fat); 12g Protein; 36g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 450mg Sodium; 14g Fiber.
Copyright © Susan Voisin 2011. All rights reserved. Please do not repost recipes or photos to other websites.
SusanVAugust 9, 2009 at 8:34 am
Older comments that were left before the blog moved:
I wish my “lazy cooks days” would give such good results!
9:59 AM, April 19, 2007
i love eggplant. i mean – who doesn’t love a purple veggie!? this sounds so hearty and flavorful. thanks for posting it! i can’t wait to give it a go. your recipes are always so herb-packed, the flavors are most dynamic, especially with dishes such as these!
10:07 AM, April 19, 2007
This looks great! My husband, who’s an eggplant fiend, will definitely love it. I also want to add that I really enjoy your blog. I check it everyday to see what new, delicious looking food will be posted.
10:22 AM, April 19, 2007
I love eggplants! As I already made your vegan eggplant “parmesan” I will definitely try this one, too. Thanks for the great recipe.
10:41 AM, April 19, 2007
I love eggplant but I know some fools who don’t like our purple friend unless it’s VERY well done (i.e. turned to mush after roasting in the oven for a long time with olive oil). Does steaming achieve the same effect? I’d love to make eggplant that’s as rich and luxurious as its oil-roasted counterpart. Thanks for the recipe!
11:00 AM, April 19, 2007
You are the most creative and well presented “lazy” cook ever!
2:08 PM, April 19, 2007
The crispy breadcrumbs on top give it the perfect finish!
2:36 PM, April 19, 2007
looks impressive, i wish my lazy cooking turn out as beautifull as yours!
4:04 PM, April 19, 2007
Oh wow, that’s a great idea. It looks so tasty!
4:15 PM, April 19, 2007
mary frances said…
Oh my gosh, that looks awesome! It’s such a shame that I used all of eggplants yesterday.
6:15 PM, April 19, 2007
Cassie’s Kitchen Recipes said…
My word, that looks simply delicious…! Not to mention the recipe itself.
9:50 PM, April 19, 2007
Hey, thanks everyone! Monica, I don’t think that steaming/baking can replace the taste that frying gives eggplant. What it does do is make it tender, and baking it with the filling transfers the filling’s seasonings to the eggplant. Real eggplant haters will probably still find something to hate, but I have to say that my resident eggplant hater tolerated the eggplant and loved the lentils.
12:21 PM, April 20, 2007
In my opinion, “messy” food often tastes better than really well-put together food. Then again, each have their place. Buy your eggplants look good either way! Is it possible for me to love eggplants any more than I already do?… I guess I’ll have to try this recipe and find out!
1:15 PM, April 20, 2007
Maya Papaya said…
Looks totally yummy!
8:44 PM, April 20, 2007
Love lentils, love eggplant! This looks absolutely delicious, I am putting this on top of my list of things to make next week right now!!
9:47 PM, April 20, 2007
hi! i’m a 19 year old girl from portugal and I’m vegan as well.
Your food seems very tasty! I will try it out, that’s for sure!
Congratulations for the great blog 🙂
1:05 PM, April 21, 2007
Twisted Cinderella said…
Looks wonderful! I am a lazy cook too!
2:35 PM, April 21, 2007
I have not been able to resist buying baby eggplants (indian I think) because they are so dang cute. I think I’ve probably eaten one a day for the past 2 months, so needless to say, I’m very excited to try out your version. None of your recipes have ever failed me. Thanks for helping me vary up my daily eggplant intake.
8:12 PM, April 21, 2007
I couldn’t resist it, the pictures were gorgeous, and I had everything on hand (except for the eggplant, but, luckily, there’s a shop five minutes away from me), so I tried it. Delicious, even though I had some problems taking it out of the baking dish.
7:03 AM, April 23, 2007
Ah, bread crumbs. Yes. Thankfully they can be gluten-free. Your dish is gorgeous, lazy or not – though I personally don’t think it qualifies as lazy, maybe *inspired* is a better word!
1:04 PM, April 24, 2007
Today I tried this for lunch… and it was awesome! delicious xD
even my parents, that aren’t vegan, ate it and enjoyed it as well 🙂
I can’t wait to try another of yours recipes 🙂
10:04 AM, April 28, 2007
AzaharaDecember 27, 2009 at 4:15 am
Not a beautiful dish, yet so delicious! We were just 4 people, but ate the whole thing and could have definitely had some more!
Thanks for the great idea!
Mary MoffApril 5, 2010 at 10:01 pm
susan, you're a hero – I HALVED this recipe and fed three happy (omni!) college chicks and myself. they didn't even make their usual "weird hippy vegan" comments about this dish! score.
also, I was a hater in the eggplant world. go figure.
GKBApril 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm
This looks delish.What should this be served with?Is it a side dish or is it eaten by itself?
Susan VoisinApril 18, 2012 at 4:56 pm
This is a hearty main dish. I would serve it with a salad and/or green vegetable and possibly potatoes or other starchy vegetable.
EmmaSeptember 13, 2012 at 4:18 am
This recepie looks great! I would like to make it for a big family dinner this weekend, but I am looking for something “pretty”. Any advise on how I would make it if I were stuffing them??
Thank you so much! I have been vegetarian for 10 years, and became vegan only 2 months ago. Your blog has saved us, we make one of your recepies for almost every meal.