One of my favourite cookbooks is French, by Damien Pignolet. This eggplant, mushroom and parsley bake is one reason why.
I didn’t really do my usual ‘ad-libbing’ with this recipe, because it’s perfect on its own. I’ll merely paraphrase Damien Pignolet, and give you half the quantity which is perfect for two to three people.
1 large eggplant, cut into 2cm dice
60ml olive oil (not extra-virgin, as the smoke point is too low to be healthy)
salt and white pepper
2 small eschalots (spring onions), sliced thinly or diced finely (your choice)
100g button mushrooms, sliced into 1cm slices (I love swiss browns)
1/4 cup finely chopped curly-leaf parsley
a 2cm thick slice of sourdough bread, stale is fine, rubbed into chunky breadcrumbs
Scatter the eggplant with salt and let it drain in a colander with something weighing down on it a bit, like a bowl. This will take about 30 to 40 mins. Rinse them quickly and dry them well with a clean tea towel or paper towel.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Fry the eggplant cubes to golden brown in two batches, using about 2 tablespoons of oil for the first batch, and adding another tablespoon for the second batch. Add them to an oven-proof dish, and sprinkle with white pepper.
Sauté the eschalots in a little more oil until soft and then add in the mushroom slices. Cover the pan so the mushrooms let go of some of their juice and simmer until soft.
Add the mushroom mixture to the eggplant, add the parsley and toss gently to combine.
In a bit more of the oil, fry the breadcrumbs for a bit, then scatter them over the eggplant and mushrooms. Bake for 15 minutes and serve immediately.
I had this batch with Basmati Pilaf and steamed broccoli. It is so intensely savoury and delicious.