Serves 4 to 6… or 3 if your family has an appetite like mine
Credit: Anne Burrell
Originally from April 2013 on my old blog
The name of this recipe doesn’t do it much justice; if I saw “Eggplant cakes” on a menu, I would probably avert my eyes. I don’t really love eggplant in general, either. It’s kind of spongy and weird. But, when it’s mixed with a bunch of other tasty veggies, caramelized, then mixed with Parmesan, coated in breadcrumbs, and baked, who wouldn’t like these adorable little cakes?
They’re the perfect little side dish, and when served with a smear of creamy ricotta on top, they’re kind of addictive.
These could also be used as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvres. They can also be increased in size and be used as a delicious veggie burger patty! I served them as a side dish (sit counts as a vegetable, right?) alongside basil spaghetti and roasted cherry tomatoes.
- 2 white onions, cut into ½ inch dice
- Kosher salt
- pinch of crushed red pepper, plus more for topping (optional)
- 2 clove garlic, smashed and finely chopped
- 3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1 eggplant, strips of skin removed (it should look striped!) cut lengthwise into1 inch dice (I suggest a little smaller than 1 inch)
- ½ bunch oregano leaves: fresh, finely chopped (I didn’t have any fresh oregano, so I didn’t use this. I’m sure it would add some flavor, but I didn’t bother. I just used some dried Italian Seasoning).
- ½ cup Parmesan, freshly grated
- ½ cup bread crumbs, plus more for coating
- Ricotta cheese, for serving
Preheat oven to 400F
Coat a large sauté pan with olive oil and bring to medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and red pepper, and cook until salt and very aromatic, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, stirring frequently.
Toss in the tomatoes and eggplant and sprinkle with more salt. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the mixture is dry and mushy (you want it mushy!), stirring frequently to keep it from burning. Let the mixture cool until you can handle it, about 20 minutes.
Toss in the oregano, Parmesan, and breadcrumbs and stir to combine, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Put some bread crumbs in a small bowl. Using tablespoon (it’ll seem like too little, but just use a tablespoon! Pack it down into the spoon as hard as possible, though) scoop out balls of the eggplant mixture and roll them in the bread crumbs. When the balls are well coated, gently flatten them and put item on a baking sheet.
Drizzle the “cakes” with olive oil and bake them 12-20 (it’s a large span of time; just watch them carefully!) minutes until golden and crispy. Top each cake with a dollop of ricotta and a couple flakes of red pepper (if you like it spicy) and serve.