My friends Sadato and Emi are wonderful hosts. He is Japanese and she is Persian and they always serve wonderful food at their home. She makes the salads and he has become very good at making Persian main dishes. When I was last visiting, he made a wonderful baked Eggplant dish that is based on the Persian Eggplant Stew - Khoresht-e-Bademjan. That's a stew that incorporates Lamb or Beef mixed with Tomatoes and Eggplant and cooked on the stove. But there were some vegetarians visiting too, so he replace the meat with Cremini Mushrooms. And, he baked it instead of cooking it on the stovetop. It was so delicious that I had to make it at home and this was my attempt. The secret to this recipe is to use Japanese Eggplant - which I think is perfectly appropriate! And, I sprinkled Parmesan Cheese on top because it made it look so pretty although it's not an authentic Persian ingredient. You could use a Feta instead to keep it authentic. Anyway, this dish is amazing because the mushrooms keep you from missing the meat (if you are a Carnivore like me) and there is a wonderful richness to this dish that goes perfectly with Persian Rice (a previous post). So, if you have some vegetarian guests coming over or it's Meatless Monday - try this dish - I'm sure you'll like it too!
Sadato's Persian Eggplant Bake
4 Japanese Eggplant, stem end removed and cut lengthwise into 1/3" slices
1 pound Cremini Mushrooms, washed, stems removed and cut into 3 slices if small and 4 slices if large
6 Tablespoons Olive Oil - divided
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large can Whole Tomatoes (
1 teaspoon ground Cumin
1 teaspoon Turmeric
Salt to taste
Optional 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Feta Cheese
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Put 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil on a baking dish and put Eggplant slices on and coat with the oil. Bake in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes or until soft and just beginning to brown. This can be done ahead
Meanwhile, put an additional 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil in a frying pan. Add mushrooms and cook until liquid is released and then is reduced - about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and reserve.
Put last Tablespoon of Olive Oil in the frying pan and add onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add in the spices and stir to mix before adding in the tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes with the spatula and bring to a boil. Taste and add salt as desired.
Reheat oven (if necessary). Place Eggplant in the bottom of a 9 x 11 inch pan. Layer the mushrooms on top and then pour the Tomato Mixture over it all. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven to bake 30 minutes. Then take out of the oven, take off the aluminum foil and sprinkle on the cheese. Place back in the oven and turn the heat to broil. Watch carefully and remove when the cheese is bubbling and brown.
Serve with Persian Rice (previous post).
Five Element Analysis
Eggplants belong to the Water Element. The Tomatoes bring in the Fire Element and the Turmeric, Cumin, Garlic and Onions all contribute the Metal Element and the Parmesan or Feta Cheese adds even more. The Mushrooms add the Earth Element so only the Wood Element is missing so be sure to serve this dish with some greens to create Five Element balance.