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Baked eggplant in tomato sauce and feta cheese

This vegetarian Mediterranean style casserole is low carb, simple, budget friendly and uses just a handful of ingredients. A perfect appetizer, side or main dish for you and your family or to feed a crowd.
Prep Time50 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish, Starter
Cuisine: Greek, Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword: Antipasti, Antipasto, gluten free, Low carb, Vegetables, vegetarian, weeknight dinner
Servings: 4 Servings
Author: Ester from esterkocht.com

Equipment

Ingredients

For the eggplants

  • 2 eggplants (approx. 650 g (23 oz))
  • 150 ml (5.1 fl oz/ 2/3 cup) olive oil

For the tomato sauce

  • 1 medium onion
  • 400 g (14.1 oz) canned tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 sun-dried tomatoes, in oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil/ oil from sun dried tomatoes
  • 100 ml (3.4 fl oz/ about 1/2 cup) water
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 250 g (8.8 oz) feta cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • water plus 1,5 teaspoons salt to soak in eggplants

Instructions

  • Rinse eggplants and cut them into slices. Fill the bowl with water, put in 1,5 teaspoons salt and stir well. Soak eggplant slices for about 30 minutes. If there are some slices without water, just press them gently down with your hands.
  • In the meantime peel and cut onions and garlic finely. Cut sun dried tomatoes into smaller pieces as well. Next, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the pot at medium-high heat and saute onions and garlic for 2 minutes. Add sun - dried tomatoes, followed by tomato paste, dried herbs, sugar and ground paprika. Stir in undrained tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Preheat the oven to 200 °C (392 °F), with both top and bottom heat.
  • After 30 minutes, remove eggplant slices from the water, put them on a cutting board lined with paper towels and pat dry. Heat half of olive oil in the skillet and fry eggplant slices on both sides, until nicely golden brown. Repeat the process until you fried all the eggplant slices. (SEE NOTE 3).
  • Start with tomato sauce and end with feta cheese.
    Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in a casserole dish. Then layer with eggplant slices followed by tomato sauce and one-third of crumbled feta cheese. Repeat the process until you've used up all the sauces and eggplant slices.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until feta cheese is slightly brown. After 25 minutes let the casserole rest for few minutes before serving. Drizzle with balsamico creme, if desired and serve immediately. I served it with homemade flatbread.

Notes

  1. It's very important to soak eggplant, in this way the bitter taste will be drawn out of the eggplant and the eggplant slices won't soak lots of oil when you'll be frying them.
  2. TIP: The tomato sauce is very flavorful and you could also make it alone and serve it with spaghetti or use it to make a vegetarian lasagna.
  3. When frying the eggplant slices, don't add all of the oil at once, just keep adding oil part-by-part if you need more. 
  4. You should divide the feta cheese equally, based on the number of layers you're having. I had three layers, thus why I divide the cheese into three parts.