Once again I succumbed to the discount rack and recently brought home four marked-down eggplants. I could make eggplant soup out of two of them, but what about the other two? I couldn’t make a vegetable pie because I had no mushrooms. Time for research!
I cruised my cookbooks and the Internet for eggplant dishes, and found that most were heavy on oil, cream, and/or cheese. However, in this delicious and low-calorie version, the oil is replaced by chicken broth, the cream by yogurt, and the cheese toned down to a sprinkling of sheep romano.
The key to this dish is the fresh mint which provides a subtle, Middle Eastern backdrop to the vegetables. The original recipe called for 3 tbsp. of chopped fresh mint. I used 4 tbsp. or ¼ cup. If you love mint, I suggest adding more!
Makes 6 servings
- 1 cup goat or sheep yogurt
- ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ cup chicken broth powder
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 large onion, sliced into rings
- 1-2 unpeeled eggplants (about 1½ lbs. total), sliced into ¼” slices
- 2-3 ripe tomatoes, sliced thinly
- ¼ cup grated sheep romano cheese
- In a small bowl, stir together yogurt, mint, garlic, and salt.
- In another bowl, mix together chicken broth and warm water.
- Using a large nonstick skillet, pour in ¼ cup of chicken broth-water mixture.
- Over medium-high heat, saute onions until tender. Remove to a plate.
- Add ¼ cup of chicken broth-water mixture.
- Saute eggplant slices (in batches), turning them once, until softened but not falling apart. Add more chicken broth-water mixture if pan dries out.
- In a shallow baking dish, overlap ½ eggplant slices to form a layer.
- Layer on ½ tomato slices and then ½ onion rings.
- Repeat eggplant-tomato-onion layering.
- Drizzle yogurt mixture over the surface until it is covered.
- Sprinkle with cheese.
- Bake in 350° F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until strata is hot and bubbly.
For Weight Watchers: I cut the strata into six pieces because this recipe has only 6 points total on both the Points and PointsPlus plans. Therefore, each serving (approximately 1-1½ cups) was worth 1 point.
(Adapted from “Middle Eastern Eggplant Baked with Yogurt and Fresh Mint” in Lighthearted at Home by Anne Lindsay.)
Hurray! After some interesting experimentation, I have arrived at a delicious, extremely low-cal vegetable pie. It’s rich with mushroom flavour that is complemented by the tang of romano cheese and is filled with interesting textures from soft to crunchy.
Makes 4 servings
Recipe update: I recently added 4 oz. of soft, herbed goat cheese, spread just above the mushroom layer, when making this dish for a dinner party. Very, very delicious. But remember, if you do this, to add to the Weight Watcher points value.
- 1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced
- 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
- 2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
- ½ yellow onion, sliced into onion rings
- ¼ cup (2 oz.) sheep romano cheese, grated
- Garlic powder, to taste
- Dried thyme, to taste
- Cooking spray
Creating the pie crust
- Spray 10″ pie plate with cooking spray.
- Create pie crust with eggplant slices (see picture).
- Spray interior of pie crust with cooking spray, particularly the scalloped top edges of the eggplant. This will keep them from wilting and turning brown.
- Fill pie with sliced mushrooms.
- Sprinkle generously with garlic powder and thyme.
- Layer onion rings over the mushrooms.
- Layer tomato slices over the onions.
- Again, sprinkle generously with garlic powder and thyme.
- Add a top layer of grated cheese.
- Bake in 400° oven for 30 – 40 minutes until the eggplants are thoroughly tender.
- Cut pie into 4 pieces, using a serrated knife.
- Remove 1 piece and then drain mushroom liquid out of pie plate.
- Ready to eat or store for the next day.
For Weight Watchers: Only the cheese has a points value in this pie for a total of 2 points. This makes a ¼-pie serving worth .5 point in both the Points and PointsPlus plan. (If you have points to spare, consider doubling the cheese.)
This pureéd soup is a pale green and has a lovely, delicate flavour. It’s good enough for a dinner party. Just before serving, I add a tablespoon of plain yogurt to each bowl in the center and then swirl it slightly so that it makes a slender white spiral. Not just delicious but pretty too! You can also add soy milk or sprinkle it with softened goat cheese.
Eggplants Learn Good Soup Behaviour
One key to this recipe in terms of taste is the sweet onion. I’ve tried both yellow onions and leeks as well but without the same success. The second key has to do with thickness. Most recipes that feature eggplant as the only vegetable also include cream to make it richer and thicker. My strategy is not to add too much broth. The less liquid you add, the thicker your soup will be. (See cooking tip below.)
- 2 large eggplants, peeled and cut into thick chunks
- 2 tbsp. minced garlic
- 1 large sweet onion, cut into thick chunks
- 4 or more cups of chicken broth, to cover
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking tip for making a thick and creamy soup: The correct amount of broth is tricky because vegetables often shrink and also contain their own liquids. To ensure that the soup will not be too thin, remove 1-2 cups of broth after the cooking is finished and before you start blending. After a first blend, you’ll know if it needs more broth. Add in ¼ cup increments until you reach the desired creaminess.
- Pour three cups of broth into a large pot.
- Add garlic, onion, and eggplant.
- Add broth to barely cover the vegetables. (The eggplant pieces will float so push them down to figure out if they are “covered.”)
- Bring to a boil.
- Cover and reduce to a simmer.
- Cook for 30 minutes.
- Cool and then puree in a blender or by using a hand blender.
The quantity should be about 6-8 cups depending on the size of the eggplants and the amount of broth.
For Weight Watchers: 0 points on both the Points and PointsPlus plan.