Thursday, June 17, 2010

South African Casserole

Last slice.
I saved it just for you.

I am fairly certain that this dish isn’t actually South African but its an old family recipe that was introduced to us as such by a vegetarian friend and the name has since stuck. I remember Aunty Hélène bringing this over to a potluck Christmas lunch when I was a child. Naturally as a family of serious meat-arians we were suspicious of  vegetarian food. Back then I loathed this purple vegetable which my mother only ever served stewed with beef. So it was only under extreme pressure and outright threats from mom that I tasted this just to be polite. The fact that I am making this some 25 years later tells you that it's good. Vegetarians surprise your carnivore friends with this tasty side dish. Oh and by the way it's goes great with a roasted or stewed lamb! We had this last Sunday with stewed fish

South African Casseroleraw

Tante Hélène’s South African Casserole
Ingredients
• 2 ounces raisins
• 4 melongene (eggplants)
• Salt to taste ¼ tsp – ½ tsp
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 cup diced onion
• 3 cups tomatoes, rough chopped (leave the seeds in as you need the moisture)
• ¼ cup unsalted peanuts, lightly roasted, coarsely chopped
• 3/4 cup breadcrumbs or ¼ cup farine reconstituted in 1/4 cup water
• 1 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Directions
Put raisins to soak in some water so that they plump up.

Peel and cut eggplants in half. Slice length ways about ¼ inch thick. Sprinkle with salt to to taste ( I only use ¼ tsp but we cook low salt around here.). Put the slices to bake at 350 degrees in the oven until cooked through. Alternately if you are worried about the oil you can steam your slices.

Meanwhile sauté garlic and onion on high heat. Cook until onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 2 minutes more. Turn down the heat.

Drain the raisins of excess water before adding them to the garlic, onion mixture. Add the nuts and breadcrumbs. Mix thoroughly. Remove from heat.

In a casserole dish layer the melongene, bread(or farine) mixture. Sprinkle with cheese, then another layer of melongene. Top with breadcrumbs and the rest of grated cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

Cooks Notes
This is another of my recipes that has undergone a gluten free makeover. The original uses breadcrumbs. Both ways are nice. The breadcrumbs have the edge on appearance since they give a prettier crust. For some reason the farine (coarse cassava flour)  just doesn’t seem to brown.

Promise me one thing.  Do not use American cheddar to make this. An Irish or New Zealand cheddar is preferable. You need a sharp cheddar to offset the sweet from the peanuts.

South African casserole


Photobucket

35 comments:

  1. Yumm -will have to try the peanut free version!

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  2. Sorry Dee this one is not for you and I wouldn't try it without the peanuts. Without it it would be an unremarkable aubergine au gratin something. Meh

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  3. OH, my mom would LOVE this! She loves eggplant. Thanks for saving her a slice!! :)

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  4. what an interesting casserole! raisins and peanuts and eggplant seem like a random combination, but i think their varying flavors and textures must merge wonderfully!

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  5. Great recipe! Reminds me of caponata with the eggplant and raisins; I love that combination!

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  6. This sounds so delicious and unique in that I dod not usually see eggplant, peanuts and raisins together. Love the unique (to me) combinations.

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  7. Oyster Culture - at the time this was a combination of ingredients that as a child just seemed plain weird:-) I am serious when I said I only tasted it cause my mom made me. I'm glad she did. Now that I'm a mom I do the same with my kids and try to encourage them to have an adventurous palette.

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  8. Never heard of this dish. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. I did a corn casserole a while back..this reminds me of it in appearance!

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  10. Why, thank you! I WILL take that last slice! Yum. Eggplant, onions and cheese!
    My mother used to make a casserole with eggplant, tomatoes, onions and (dare I say it?) Velveeta cheese.
    But I am liking your recipe way better! Raisins and peanuts are interesting additions...

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  11. Step out of your comfort zone I dare ya!;-p

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  12. Peanuts! I've never seen that before, but my mouth is watering (at 6:38am) right now. Want this for breakfast...

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  13. It looks amazing! Just the thing I'm craving for. South African or not!

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  14. Now a vegetarian dish that will satisfy carnivores? This I've got to try! :D

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  15. What a fascinating dish! The combination of eggplant, raisins, and peanuts is very intriguing!

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  16. oh. I like the idea of eggplant and raisin together a lot!

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  17. This sounds so intriguing! What a great combination of flavors, I definitely have to try this dish!

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  18. Long time reader, first time writer :-) I am definitely going to try this! Those pics look great - must look away or will try to eat laptop...

    p.s. I note your comment about American cheddar :-)

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  19. Hiiiii and big welcome Cultureshok,
    Hope I didn't come off as a food snob on the American cheddar but I can't stress enough how wrong it is for this particular dish. If you do try it. I would love to know how it turns out.

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  20. it looks amazingly delicious!

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  21. This looks deelish! and photographed on purple, my fav colour. Yum! Pigx

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  22. This looks AMAZING!! I'm not a big fan of meat so I'm definitely trying this recipe! What a great alternative.

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  23. :-) It looks lovely, even if I had to only eat the photos :-).

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  24. I'm not a fan of eggplant except if it is fire-roasted but I have bookmarked this to make for my vegetarian friends the next time I am entertaining or like you suggest, just make it like a side dish to have with some stewed meat or fish. Very attractive dish.

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  25. When I was younger I would also hate eating my vegetables - had to be bribed! But looking at your South African dish, I do feel that I could happily have this last slice!

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  26. Oh wow, this is a stunner of a recipe! Looks delicious and so colourful too.

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  27. I hate melongene but love raisins. This casserole is a definite do. : )

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  28. I eat vegetarian when it's good like that! GREG

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  29. I love the new combo of eggplant with peanuts and raisins. Will definitively try it with good cheese on top! Trust me!

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  30. Yum. Haven't been on FBook in ages (weeks?) - got a bit tired of it. But just went on in case anyone had sent me an important message - and saw a note from you re animus photos. Hope all is well with you.

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  31. Hi Hon, here is the link for the meatballs recipe: http://www.stabroeknews.com/2010/the-scene/06/26/goodness-gracious-great-balls-of-meat/

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  32. Perfect dish for my hubby who's a vegetarian. I just bookmarked the recipe. And pinky promise, I'll use an Irish cheddar ;)

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  33. Xiaolu @ 6 BittersweetsJuly 20, 2010 at 12:01 PM

    I eat mostly vegetarian and your stamp of approval PLUS 25 years of devotion to back it up are certainly enough for me. BOOKMARKED!

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  34. I love eggplant. i am going to try making this soon and I promise Irish or NZ cheddar ;)
    H

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