Meatless Monday: Eggplant, Mozzarella and Saffron Rice Bake
My CSA share has produced several eggplants in the last few weeks and I was stumped by what to do with them all. One of the best recipes I’ve found to date is this Eggplant Parmesan.
But (here I go sounding like a broken record), I don’t have much time to cook these days. And that dish takes too much time. Anything that requires several steps in the prep process doesn’t get a moment’s consideration from me right now. I need easy. I need fairly quick.
Enter this recipe.
A call out to the Twitterverse for new ways to use eggplant resulted in my friend Jen sharing a link to a Bon Appetit dish. The original recipe made what seemed to be enough to feed an army, so I cut way back since I only have to feed a party of two. I also made a few other adjustments to the ingredients, but luckily I didn’t screw up the deliciousness of the dish along the way!
Even though it takes a little while to bake, overall the prep is pretty simple and painless. Served with a side salad, this is a very filling, meatless comfort meal that is sure to show up at our house quite often from here on out.
Eggplant, Mozzarella, and Saffron Rice Bake
Serves 4. Adapted from Bon Appetit.
1 Tbsp + 1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup arborio rice
Pinch of saffron
1/8 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup vegetable broth or water
1 large eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds
Freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups store-bought marinara, divided
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, divided
Preheat oven to 425°. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add rice; cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Stir in saffron, then wine. Cook until wine reduces slightly, about 1 minute. Add broth; season with salt. Cover and cook over medium heat until rice is very al dente and still crunchy, about 8 minutes; remove pan from heat.
Meanwhile, arrange eggplant on rimmed baking sheet, overlapping slightly. Drizzle 1/2 cup olive oil over; season with salt and pepper. Bake, turning eggplant halfway through, until tender and golden brown, 20–25 minutes.
Cover the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch baking dish with 1 cup tomato sauce. Sprinkle 1/3 of mozzarella over, then 1/3 of Parmesan.
Cover with a layer of eggplant rounds. Add saffron rice, spreading out in an even layer. Sprinkle over another 1/3 each of mozzarella and Parmesan, then 1/2 of the remaining tomato sauce and another layer of eggplant. Top with remaining tomato sauce and remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover dish with foil.
Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Uncover dish and bake until golden on top, about 20 minutes longer. Let stand for at least 10 minutes to set before serving.