I need to come up with a better name for this dish.  How about Ratatouille Casserole?  Casseroles don’t do it for you either, huh?  Oh, well.  Let’s keep it simple.  This dish kind of has a personality conflict.  On the one hand, its made from late summer night shade vegetables; on the other, it is comforting and satisfying in a way that only a late winter evening embraces.  Maybe that makes it perfect as we slide into March.  It’s too cold (in most of the world) to be expected to subsist on a sprouts salad with a poached spring egg on top with a light rhubarb coulis for dessert, but you want to hope for warmer times.  Make this, serve it steamy covered with parmesan cheese, you won’t be sorry.  And when your basket or garden is overflowing in August, make it again, skip the cheese and eat it lukewarm.  Its delicious either way.

If you happen to be reading this from a foreign country where the grocery store is not very well stocked, or you want the most delicious outcome, you might be making your own polenta and tomatoes, as I’ve provided instructions below.  If you are blessed with 70,000 choices in your store, this can be the quickest dish ever with purchased polenta and tomato sauce.  Add mozzarella cheese to make it even richer.

Eggplant and Polenta (adapted from Laurel’s Kitchen)

  • 1 cup polenta (course ground corn flour)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 2 eggplant, sliced into 1/2″ rounds (1.5 lbs)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 5 tomatoes, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese
  1. Prepare Polenta:  In a metal bowl over boiling water (double boiler), whisk the polenta and salt with a generous splash of cold water, until you have a uniform slurry.  Whisk in the boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the polenta is thick, about 30 minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before pouring into a gallon size ziploc bag, rolling the top of the bag so you have a relatively cylindrical mound of polenta.  Refrigerate until completely cold and stiff.
  2. Saute onions, green peppers, and garlic for a few minutes until soft.  Add parsley and tomatoes and allow to cook down for a few minutes.
  3. Remove the polenta from the fridge and cut into shapes that roughly resemble the eggplant slices.
  4. In a ovenproof dish, arrange eggplant and polenta in an overlapping fish-scale pattern.  Cover the first layer with some sauce and continue until you have used everything, ending with the sauce.
  5. Bake 45 minutes in a 350F oven until bubbling and wonderful.  Serve, topped with parmesan cheese for a little comfort.
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