I've been teaching in Toronto, which was wonderful, but it was also incredibly cold. All I could think about today after I got back was making some warming food. But I wasn't in the mood for soup yet. Sometimes what warms me is the origin of the food - this dish reminds me of meals I have had in Provence - one of my favorite places to go and visit. It is a vegetarian dish of eggplant slices layered with tomato slices and then covered with onions and garlic. It is slow roasted in the oven and then you take off the foil and sprinkle it with Parmesan Cheese and breadcrumbs and broil until brown. It takes the not very ripe winter tomatoes and makes them taste richer and the eggplant gets soft and melts in your mouth. It's seasoned with Rosemary and Thyme and just smells like the South of France. And, it's very easy to make and is a wonderful side dish to a roast or as part of a vegetarian meal. Hope you enjoy it too!
Provencal Eggplant and Tomato Tian
1 large globe eggplant, stem ends cut off - cut into rounds 1/3” thick and then cut into half for the narrow end pieces and cut into quarters for the center pieces
½ red onion, diced
6 large Roma Tomatoes, stem end removed and cut into 1/4 “ slices
2 garlic cloves minced
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon dried Thyme
1/ teaspoon dried Rosemary
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
Optional: 3 Tablespoons Bread Crumbs + 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Another Option: add 2 large zucchinis, sliced
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a oval Tian or Pyrex deep dish pie pan, layer the tomato and eggplant. Start with a slice of tomato and then eggplant and then another slice of tomato and push them upright as the row gets full. Then repeat to create another row. If there are any extra eggplant pieces, tuck them into the sides of the dish. Then sprinkle the onions, garlic, Rosemary, Thyme, salt and pepper over the top. Cover with a piece of foil and put into the oven.
Bake for one hour and then take off the aluminum foil. Put oven on to Broil. Mix together Parmesan Cheese, Breadcrumbs and Olive Oil and sprinkle over the top. Place under the broiler and broil until the cheese is melted and the breadcrumbs are brown – watch carefully so it doesn’t burn! Serve hot or warm.
Five Element Analysis
Eggplant, because of its’ dark color, belongs to the Water Element. The tomatoes contribute the Fire Element and the Thyme, Rosemary, Garlic, Onions and Parmesan make sure that the Metal Element is present. There’s only a bit of olive oil that brings in the Wood Element and the bread crumbs add just a bit more. The Earth Element is present only in the slow cooked onions and the fact that it is a casserole makes it a more Earthy dish, but if you want to gain more balance, it would be good to serve with other Wood and Earth foods like a main dish made of beef to bring in more Earth and perhaps some crusty bread to give more Wood.