Eggplant Casserole with Beef                        Jay Keller, November 2011

Serves 4, about 90 minutes prep time (can be prepared in advance)   

Prepare eggplant

1 large eggplant
2 eggs
peanut or canola oil (you can use olive oil if you wish, but watch the temperature)


Ahead of time: Cut eggplant into ¼” slices.  Heavily salt slices on both sides and leave for 1-3 hours in a bowl.  When ready to proceed, discard expelled liquid, rinse and dry slices. Salting and rinsing the eggplant before using extracts the bitter juices and improves flavor.

Whisk eggs in a plate with fork until homogeneous.  In a second plate (or a plastic bag), coat eggplant slices with flour.  Using a fork, coat each floured slice with the egg wash and then return to the flour for a final coating. 

Heat oil in a large frying pan, and fry eggplant slices on each side in the peanut or canola oil until lightly browned.  (For a lower-fat alternative: apply spray oil (canola or olive) to the slices and bake them on a cookie sheet at 425 degrees, turning once, until lightly browned).

Save cooked eggplant slices between paper towels until ready to assemble casserole.


Prepare meat (I would do this while the eggplant is still soaking, then set aside)

1 lb. ground beef (~85% fat is fine, use lamb or pork if desired)
2 medium onions, chopped (not-too-finely, a few random slightly larger slices are fine also for texture)
2 large or 4 small cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. oil
Salt, thyme, oregano, black pepper, red pepper flakes

In a large frying pan, sauté onion in oil for 2-3 minutes.  Add the ground meat and cook until browned, stirring frequently.  Then add the crushed garlic and the seasonings — ½ tsp. thyme, ¾ tsp. oregano, ½ tsp coarsely-ground black pepper, ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, salt to taste.  Remove to a bowl, skim off excess fat (you can also tilt the bowl and use paper towels to absorb the excess fat).


Assemble casserole

Prepared meat and eggplant slices.
~ 1-1/2 c. meatless tomato sauce (your choice, but thin it a little with water if it’s super-thick).
¼ cup of Spanish olives, halved (pimento-stuffed is great).

Coat the bottom of an 8’’x12” baking dish (glass, porcelain, or coated cast-iron) with some of the tomato sauce, and arrange a layer of eggplant , then beef, then more  sauce. Repeat the layering until you wind up with eggplant on the bottom and top layers, with two layers of meat in-between, and enough sauce to fill the spaces.  As you go, place olive-halves into the corners and spaces between the slices.   Coat the top with a thin layer of sauce.


Bake (Preheat oven to 325)

3/4 cup grated cheese (again, your choice, cheddar/jack mixture is perfect).

Loosely cover the top with a foil-tent to keep the sauce from drying out too much, and bake for about 22-25 minutes.  Remove the foil and spread the grated cheese on top, then back another 10-15 minutes until ready to serve.



This is a rich casserole, so a nice salad is all that you need as a go-with.  Red wine.


Complete Ingredient List

1 large eggplant
2 eggs
vegetable oil (peanut, canola, or olive)
1 lb. ground beef
2 medium onions
2 large or 4 small cloves garlic
~1-1/2 c. tomato sauce (your choice, but not meat sauce)
¼ c. Spanish olives
~ ¾ c. grated cheese (your choice, e.g. Cheddar, Jack, Mozzarella…)
salt, coarsely-ground black pepper, crushed red pepper, thyme, oregano