This one owes a big debt to Savory Baking, where it's listed as a side dish with a couple of tweaks. Here, little more than a can of tomatoes and some pantry items become dinner once you realize that a dead-simple toasted topping gives you most of the satisfaction of eggplant marinara without the hassle of breading individual slices. Savory crumbles and crisps are bound to become a theme here this winter.
Eggplant makes for a truly classic-feeling dish with very little effort, but below you'll find two variations that offer more protein. One features big, creamy butter beans; the other, fabulously convenient smoked tofu—both are a breeze to assemble and satisfying to munch. Do note that since you'll simmer your own sauce, it will take the better part of an hour, largely inactive, from start to finish.
Whatever version you choose, dinner just got a lot easier. The crisp benefits from being served with the simplest of salads with a richer touch. Spring mix or other tender lettuce tossed with a tahini-soy-garlic dressing and savory nut crumble is just the thing. (This is a good time to remind everyone to make a full batch of that crumble regularly—it elevates a minimal salad like an absolute dream.) Offer a baguette, and done.
Eggplant and Tomato Crisp
serves 4-6, adapted from Savory Baking
For the filling:
1 28-oz can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP drained capers
2 TBSP pepperoncini (or pickled banana peppers for the heat-averse), finely chopped
1 TBSP natural cane sugar (evaporated cane juice)
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 small globe eggplant
For the topping:
1/3 cup panko crumbs
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 TBSP nutritional yeast
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried rubbed sage
1/4 tsp fine sea or kosher salt
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
Combine all filling, except eggplant, in a covered pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-medium-low to maintain a steady simmer. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 25 minutes. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, combine all topping ingredients, except olive oil, in a small mixing bowl. Stir to mix well. Add oil and work it in with a fork until the mixture is fully coated and sandy. Set aside.
Trim eggplant. Beginning at the narrow end, slice nine half-inch rounds from the eggplant. (Save any remaining eggplant for another purpose.)
When the sauce is done, heat oven to 350. Heat a countertop electric grill (or stovetop griddle).
Grill eggplant slices with the lid closed until just tender with sear marks, 4-5 minutes. (For the griddle, cook a couple of minutes per side.)
Carefully place the eggplant in a snug single layer in an 8x8 pan. Pour the sauce over. Crumble the topping evenly on top. Bake until bubbling and the top has browned, 15-20 minutes.
Variations: In place of grilled eggplant, substitute a 15-oz can of butter beans, rinsed and well drained or eight ounces of smoked tofu squares, cut into half-inch-thick slabs.