It was a pretty dreary start to the week here in Melbourne. With the dreaded rain/wind combo and a top of 16 degrees, it has definitely been starting to show signs of what’s to come. Luckily it’s turn into blue skies and crisp mornings! Whilst you can’t rely on the weather, you can rely on a good seasonal baked dish like this one to warm you through and make your house smell and feel homey.
This is a delicious and warming meal that makes the most of the eggplants currently in season. They are cooked with oregano, chilli, plenty of garlic and olive oil, and are made substantial with some hearty butter beans.
This dish is great as is, but to up the comfort factor, there’s a zippy lemon and macadamia “ricotta” to add before the final bake. It’s super convincingly creamy and crumbly, and everything you want with baked beans and tomato.
It’s also an excellent me to make in advance for an easy but rewarding weeknight dinner. Just pop in the oven for the final bake and to heat it through and then enjoy on your couch with a good book and a cosy blanket. Yes, that’s a compulsory serving suggestion! Xx
Ps- thank you so much to Loving Earth for choosing me to be their June Featured Foodie. I’ll have a chance to write some really exciting and different recipes using their inspiring products, and I am totally honoured to have been chosen out of such a high calibre selection of entrants!
To my new readers who have come with the promise of desserts, don’t worry! There’ll be some more soon! (But a great savoury can still be exciting sometimes, no?) X
Baked Eggplant Butter Beans with Lemon Macadamia Ricotta
You can make this recipe ahead and just finish it for the final bake in the oven – just lower the temperature to 180C and increase the cooking time slightly to make sure it heats through. Use a pan that you can move from stove top to oven, such as a cast iron pot or Dutch oven. If you don’t have one, start the dish in a saucepan and pour the contents into a casserole dish to bake.
1 cup macadamia nuts
375ml | 1.5 cups water
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp nutritional yeast
Plenty of ground black pepper
Eggplant Butter Beans
550g | 2 medium eggplant, quartered lengthways and cut into 1 cm slices
200g | 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1/4 tsp red chilli flakes (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
3-4 tbls extra virgin olive oil (+ more to finish)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
5 sprigs oregano, leaves picked (7g)
220g | 1.5 cups cooked butter beans (Lima; 1 x 400g can, rinsed and drained)
720ml | 680g tomato passata
Salt and pepper to taste
For the “Ricotta”: Blend the macadamias and water till they form a creamy milk (3-5 min). Strain into a nut milk bag or very fine cheesecloth, catching the excess liquid (milk) in a bowl to save for future use (coffee, cereal, smoothies etc). Using your hands, squeeze the bag of macadamia pulp till as much liquid comes out as possible. Put the remaining macadamia pulp in a small bowl and add zest, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast, adjusting to taste. Cover and refrigerate till use, will keep for up to 5 days.
For the Eggplant Butter Beans: Set your oven to 200C.
In a cast iron pot over medium heat, brown the onion in the olive oil for a few minutes before adding the eggplant, salt and chilli flakes. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, adding more oil if needed (about 15 min). Add the garlic and oregano and cook for a minute more before adding the butter beans and passata. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Bake in the oven without a lid for 10 minutes. Remove from oven temporarily to put spoonfuls of “ricotta” on top, before baking again for a further 10 min and the ricotta is starting to colour. Remove from oven and rest for 5 minutes. Finish with a good drizzle of olive oil and a scattering of fresh oregano leaves.
Serve along side a zesty green salad and either soft cooked polenta, polenta chips, your favourite mash, your favourite bread or pasta.