“A serving of eggplant can provide at least 5% of a person’s daily requirement of fiber, copper , manganese, B-6, and thiamine. It also contains other vitamins and minerals.” -Medical News Today
baked eggplant-berenjena asada…
You know that dish Latin parents try to get you to eat, where they hide all the veggies in it? The one we don’t appreciate until we’re old enough to understand its deliciousness and complexity. Yes, baked eggplant!! I put my own twist on my baked eggplant- berenjena asada recipe using techniques and flavors that I picked up when I visited the UAE. In the UAE they have a similar dish called shakshuka, where they bake eggs into a tomato sauce. To keep it vegan, and incorporate parts of my mom’s berenjena asada recipe, I substituted the eggs for eggplant and used both Latin and Middle Eastern spices.
Eggplant is packed full of nutrients and vitamins that are used to help manage heart, cholesterol, and stomach conditions. It is also a good source of fiber, aids in digestion, and helps promote weight loss. I incorporated eggplant into our regular diet a couple of years ago, and the changes we’ve witnessed have been significant for us. It’s something that I would recommend to incorporate into your weekly diet, especially if your family has a history of high blood pressure or cholesterol. And let’s be honest, that’s most Latinos, but with a good diet these are things that we can learn to manage while not depriving ourselves of delicious and satisfying food. So let’s dive right into my healthy but delicious baked eggplant- berenjena asada recipe!
How to make eggplant tasty:
Eggplant is one of those ingredients that tends to be bitter. Therefore in a Dominican kitchen, most people add some sugar to balance out the flavor. However, as you may have guessed, sugar is not an ingredient I prefer to cook with. Instead, in my recipe, I used natural maple syrup to offset the bitterness. I have also tried this recipe with agave and honey, and both work great as well. So feel free to use your favorite natural sweetener and make it your own.
Another boost in the flavor profile is added when the eggplant is placed into the oven. You can very easily finish this recipe stovetop. However, I find that the light char and smokey flavor you get from finishing it off in the oven is what elevates this dish completely.
Lastly incorporating fresh tomatoes into the dish along with the canned tomatoes helps reduce the acidity levels. Canned tomatoes usually have a higher level of acidity compared to fresh tomatoes. By using both you reduce that tanginess, which many people try to fix with sugar. As I mentioned before, I always try to avoid using sugar where possible to keep my dishes healthier.
“If you’re not a fan of cilantro (coriander) substitute it for parsley or scallions (green onion). Adding the fresh herbs helps keep the dish light and fresh.”
Berenjena asada- baked eggplant
- Large oven-safe frying pan OR regular frying pan PLUS oven-safe dish
- 1½ TBSP Coconut oil
- 1 Small red onion
- 1 Small shallot
- 1 Garlic cloves (Peeled & sliced)
- 2 TBSP Sofrito
- 4 Medium tomatoes (Skinned & cut in half)
- 2 Medium eggplants
- 1 TSP Paprika
- 1 TSP Chili powder (½ TSP for less spice)
- 1 TSP Cumin
- 1 TSP Onion powder
- 2 TSP Adobo
- 2 400G Chopped tomato cans
- 2½ TSP oregano
- 2 TBS Maple syrup (substitute with honey or agave)
- ½ Cilantro bunch chopped
- Pre-heat oven to 190°C / 375°F
- Prepare the veggies:A: rough chop the onions, shallots, and garlic cloves.B: Skin the tomatoes by peeling them similarly to how you would peel an orange. C: Make 5 incisions lengthwise from the top of the eggplant to the bottom. Do not fully cut through.
- Heat frying pan to medium-high and add coconut oil. Once warm, add onions, shallots, garlic and sofrito. Sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add paprika, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, and adobo. Warm spices through for about a minute.
- Add cans of tomato, 1½ TSP of oregano, and a small pinch of salt & pepper to the mixture. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the maple syrup and combine. Remove half of the mixture and set aside in a bowl.
- Place the eggplant in the center of the pan. Turn over after 5 minutes. The color will start to change to brown.
- Place the tomatoes around the eggplant. Using your cooking utensil, push down on the incisions in the eggplant, they should now be starting to open up. Feel free to pour some of the sauce from the pan into the incisions as well.
- Turn off heat. Sprinkle the pan with some cilantro, ½ Tsp of oregano, and another pinch of salt & pepper.
- Pour the tomato mixture you set aside on top, making sure you get some into the incisions of the eggplant. Top with the last ½ TSP of oregano.
- Place in the middle rack of the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, turn over the eggplant. Using your cooking utensil, smash in the tomatoes. They'll be soft and will turn into a sauce. Mix and pour over eggplant. Place back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and rest for a couple minutes. It will be piping hot. Top with some cilantro, lemon slices, salt & pepper if needed, and DONE!