Now that we are all experts at preparing eggplant, let’s get some recipes out there to help us start loving it. This recipe is from my kitchen, and I think the combination of vegetables and spices make it the perfect fall and winter dish. It’s my own take on ratatouille, but only in the sense that ratatouille is sometimes arranged in rows like this and it also uses eggplant. Everything else is pretty different. I bought a Lebanese cookbook a few years back after my husband Curt and I had a conversation about feeling uninspired by our spice collection. We were looking for new flavor combinations, and Curt found the perfect answer in Lebanese 7 spices seasoning. This fabulous and vast cookbook has a recipe for the spice blend that he made, but basically it’s a mixture of these seven ground spices: allspice, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, fenugreek, and ginger. We call our version Lebanese 6 spices because we didn’t add the fenugreek – and even after a little research, I still don’t know what it is! There are different variations of Lebanese 7 spices seasoning all over the internet, and unfortunately I’m not familiar enough with authentic Lebanese food to say which is the most authentic.
After trying the dish Curt made with this concoction of fall spices, I dreamed of combining it with eggplant and squash. And when I saw the most beautiful shiny eggplant at the store a few weeks back, I knew it was time. Plus, who wants to wait another 10 months to cook with pumpkin pie spices again? I didn’t add cheese to the dish because it sat next to a hot goat cheese polenta on our plates (The Pioneer Woman has a delicious recipe), but if you skip the polenta, I would recommend sprinkling some soft goat cheese on the top when you remove the foil.
I love meals that allow me to create my own flavor in a bite. For example, when I add sour cream to a soup, I just add a dollop and take as much as I want with a spoonful of soup, whereas Curt mixes in all the sour cream for a uniform taste every time. The green sauce in this recipe caters to my way of eating and is meant to add some nutrients, color, and flavor options during your meal. This green sauce can be prepared with any combination of your favorite greens – spinach, kale, chard, mustard greens, beet greens, etc.
And because we were dying to use some of our dried hibiscus flowers we brought back from Guatemala, we made a hibiscus, mint limeade for drinks! Enjoy!
Eggplant and Butternut Squash Ratatouille
A heavenly combination of fall vegetables and spices make up this savory baked vegetarian dish. Serve with a goat cheese polenta, and top it off with a thick green sauce made from your favorite greens. And you might just want a slice of pumpkin pie for dessert!
- 1 neck butternut squash, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
- 1 large eggplant, halved and thinly sliced
- 1/4 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 8 handfuls greens, stems removed see note
- 2 tsp Lebanese seven spices seasoning
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbs tomato paste
- 10 fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp tarragon, dried
- 2 tsp mint, dried
- 1/2 tsp onion salt
- 1/4 cup vegetable stock
Drain the eggplant. Meanwhile prepare your vegetables and spices for the ratatouille and green sauce.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a medium size bowl whisk the ratatouille spices into the vinegar, olive oil, and tomato paste. Add the onions and eggplant and mix well with tongs.
Generously oil a 9x13 inch pan with olive oil. Add a handful of butternut squash slices to the pan. Start one row by swiping each side of two pieces of squash along the oiled pan, standing them up on their cut side. Then add a few onions and two pieces of eggplant. Repeat this step until you have two rows of vegetables. Use all your vegetables by sticking the extras in every few inches.
Bake covered on the middle rack for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan on medium heat sauté the tarragon, mint, and onion salt in olive oil. After 3 minutes add your greens. Turning the greens with tongs, continue to sauté until they cook down, about 2-3 minutes.
Transfer the greens to a food processor. Add the vegetable stock and pulse until pureed.
Transfer the sauce to a medium saucepan and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Choose a combination of your favorite greens - spinach, kale, chard, mustard greens, beet greens, etc.