Once upon a time, back when no one was gluten-free, beans were a protein and not a carb, and even vegetarians ate cheese, this recipe from Williams-Sonoma’s Beans & Rice was your go-to recipe. Whether as a weeknight supper or a side dish at dinner parties, it just worked. It was cheap. Relatively easy. And everyone liked it.
You stopped making it somewhere along the way, but when confrtoned with a glorious set of baby eggplant and fat cherry tomatoes at the farmers market, it came to mind. Turns out Williams-Sonoma stopped making it too, updating it to a bean-free version.
Recalling that half the glory of the orginal was how the beans soaked up the tomato juices, but eating mostly paleo/Whole 30 these days, you decide to make your own revision.
Make the Roasted Eggplants and Tomatoes
You start by splitting the eggplants vertically, sprinkling them with kosher salt and letting them sit for about 15 minutes. You rinse the eggplant halves, and toss, along with the cherry tomatoes, in a bit of olive oil, ground fennel and oregano. Because the oven needs to heat up, you let them sit about 20 minutes. then you roast them for 10 minutes.
Prepare the gluten-free, low-carb crust
Meanwhile, you’ve decided that a shredded zucchini “crust” might be the thing to ensure all the tomato goodness has something to get absorbed by. So you take some of the shredded/salted/drained zucchini you keep on hand, and mix it with some flax seed meal (hello, omega-3’s), lightly beaten eggs and some vegan Parmesan-alternative (you like the one from Follow your Heart). Pressed into a parchment-lined pie plate and put into the oven when the other vegetables are done, it comes out 20 minutes later appearing appropriately crust-like.
Put it all together and add some vegan cheese
Now you assemble everything, arranging the eggplant halves and tomatoes (which you have decided to slice in half, since they are kind of large) on top of the “crust.” Then you rather liberally place some vegan mozzerella shreds (also from Follow your Heart) over the whole thing and pop back into the oven for a final 12 minutes.
You tap your foot impatiently while waiting for it to cool enough to eat. Patience rewarded: Melty cheese; melty eggplant, melty tomatoes, all supported by a soft yet supportive crust.
Is it a tian? A pizza? A tomato pie, as your Sicilian great-aunt used to call dough-topped-with-tomatoes-and-cheese? Who cares. You are just calling it good.
Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Pie
Makes two 9-inch pies; serves 4 as an entree
For the roasted vegetables:
- Three baby/minature eggplant
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 12 to 16 cherry tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 tsp ground fennel
- 1/2 tsp dried organo
For the crust:
- 1 cup shredded, salted and drained zucchini
- 1/2 cup flax seed meal
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten, or equivalent of vegan egg substitute
- 1/4 cup vegan Parmesan-cheese alternative
- 3/4 cup vegan mozzerella alternative
- Prepare your self: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Line two 9-inch glass pie plates with parchment paper cut into circles to fit bottom of plate.
- Prepare the eggplant: Wash the eggplants, even if they are organic. Lay out paper towels on the counter and spread the salt over them. Split the eggplants in half lengthwise, from base to stem-end. Place the halves cut-side down into the salt. Let sit 10 minutes, then rinse and pat dry.
- Prepare the tomatoes: Wash the tomatoes, even if they are organic. Place the tomatoes and prepared eggplant into a shallow dish. Add olive oil, fenne; and pregano, toss to coat. Let sit 10 to 20 minutes.
- Roast the eggplant and tomatoes: Arrange vegetables on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Pour any remaining olive oil from the dish over them. Roast for 10 minutes, remove from oven, set aside.
Make-ahead note: The roasted vegetables can be stored in the refrigerator for two to three days, and the recipe resumed from the next step for an easy midweek dinner.
- Prepare and bake the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the shredded zucchini, flax seed meal, eggs, and vegan Parmesan. Stir with a fork until throughly mixed. Divide between the two prepared pie dishes and use fork to spread out and flatten the “crust”. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Finish the pies: Top each crust with the eggplant and tomatoes, and then sprinkle the vegan mozzerella over the tops. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve