On a long plane ride I sat beside a woman from Hot Springs, Arkansas. She realized I had a big garden and offered me a recipe for an eggplant dish served at the Hot Springs Hotel. I scratched out the recipe on the back of my ticket packet. It sounded pretty interesting.
Once home, I assembled the ingredients and put together the Hot Springs Hotel specialty. Heavenly! It is actually an eggplant dressing with lots of breadcrumbs. We use VERY little bread in this home, so the recipe has been shelved for a number of years, until yesterday.
The intense flavors of this great recipe are back in our kitchen, adapted without breadcrumbs. This is a rich and densely flavored casserole made a bit easier by using brown rice pilaf left from a previous meal. The leftover pilaf was planned, of course. I prepare pilaf in the largest skillet we have and I fill it to the top.
This dish is brimming with vegetables and fresh things to wash and chop. Speed up the dinner prep by recruiting some kitchen help. There is no experience required!
Plan on making a huge casserole and having two or three meals from it during the week or make several small casseroles and pop the extras into the freezer.
This dish is best when all the vegetables and basil are fresh, harvested on the day you plan to cook it if you are lucky enough to be growing them. Alternatively, plan to cook it on the day you’ve been to the farmers market.
The flavor of this dish is so intense, I’m getting excited about it even doing this writing!
(These are amounts for a 9×13 baking dish. Generously serves 6.)
Now you are ready to feast. If you allow this casserole to set for about 15 minutes after coming from the oven, it will serve more neatly. Don’t worry. It’s still very hot. Serve with garden fresh tomatoes.
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