Eggplant is one of those vegetables that takes on the flavors of what you cook it in. This is why this casserole makes such a tasty dish.
1 large or 2 smaller eggplants, peeled and diced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil plus olive oil for frying
3 medium green bell peppers, cut into 1-inch squares
1 1/2 cups diced plum tomatoes
3 tablespoons unbleached white flour
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups grated Mozzarella-style soy "cheese"
dash cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the diced eggplant in a colander and salt it. Let stand for 30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and saute over moderate heat until it begins to turn golden. Add the eggplant and just enough water to keep the bottom of the skillet moist. Cover and cook, stirring frequently. When the eggplant is about half done, stir in the basil and cumin. Cook until the eggplant is tender, adding small amounts of water as needed while cooking to keep the skillet moist, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Oil a large, shallow baking casserole and pat the eggplant mixture into it.
Rinse the skillet and heat the oil. Add the peppers and saute over high heat, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown.
Lower the heat, stir in the tomatoes, and saute for a minute or two, just until they begin to soften. Slowly sprinkle in the flour, stirring until it disappears. Then, slowly, stir in the milk and bring to a simmer. Sprinkle in the cheese, a bit at a time, followed by the cayenne. Let the mixture simmer until thickened and the cheese is completely melted. Pour over the eggplant. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and bubbly. Let cool for 10 minutes, then scoop out sections with a spatula to serve.
This is a great make ahead dish, choose to serve it alone as the main course or with another entree.