Eggplant Parmesan Casserole

I bought an eggplant last week. I am not sure how this keeps happening, because we are supposed to be on a budget and following strict buying and purchasing rules. But random new fruits and veggies and meats keep ending up in my cart and subsequently back at my house.

This time we ended up with an eggplant.

I didn’t have a freaking clue what to do with an eggplant. But here is a fun story.

When I was in kindergarten, we all had to pick our favorite vegetable and do something with it- make a picture? bring it in? the teacher did something? I have no idea what the end game was- all I know is that we had to pick our favorite vegetable and I picked an eggplant, for no other reason that it was purple. The teacher was stunned and even told my mom that she had never had another student pick an eggplant before because most kids don’t even know what it is. I am not real sure that we ever ate eggplant at home? I don’t have any distinct memories of mom cooking eggplant. She hated cooking, so somehow I doubt it. But I knew what it was, and I knew I would like it. A prophecy obviously.

So here I sit, 24 years old, the proud owner of my own eggplant, and no idea what to do with it. Pinterest here I come..

I found this recipe, and followed it pretty exact. It was incredibly easy, and I will definitely make it in the future. And now that I know how yummy eggplant is, I will be branching out to make more eggplant-y things in the future. As long as Aldi stocks them for $1 a piece that is.

Recipe:

2 cups cooked quinoa
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large eggplant cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 24oz tomato sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated*
½ cup Romano cheese, grated*

What to do:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Grease an 8×8 pan (I would almost go to a 9×13 because 8×8 was a tight fit
Put the eggplant cubes into a bowl of cold water for about 20 min
Drain and dry the eggplant cubes
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet with garlic, onion, and salt
Add the eggplant and saute for ten minutes or so
Add the tomato sauce and simmer for 20-30 min
Combine Quinoa, pepper, eggplant mix, and 1/2 cup parmesan
Transfer into baking dish and top with remaining cheese
Bake 30 minutes
Top with Basil or Oregano, allow to rest 10 minutes

I made this the night before I had a friend over and after it had cooled I just put it into the fridge. The next day I heated it up in the oven while we fed the kids and then we enjoyed it. It was delicious! In the future I would def add way more eggplant. It tasted very similar to a lasagna. I ran out of shredded parmesan so I ended up using some cheddar. It was still good.

Pretty versatile and easy to make!

Enjoy!

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