It’s cheesy, creamy and meatless. Think moussaka but without the beef. Instead of meat, rice is added and that addition makes this dish a complete meal. We loved it. I’d make it again and again — even for a dinner party. Yes, it is that good. Who would have thought? I was just trying to make good use of leftover rice.
Okay, it has Mornay sauce which is Béchamel sauce with cheese. And, yes, butter and milk. Don’t run away. Think of it this way — it’s a quarter cup of butter for a dish that serves four to six people. So each person gets to ingest only one-fourth or one-sixth of that quarter cup of butter. That’s not so bad. And you can use skim milk.
And, yes, there’s cheese in this dish. In the sauce and then as a final touch. Quite a lot? If you think cheese has too much fat, get the low-fat kind. I can’t say it’ll taste as good but, at least, you won’t feel like you can only eat a few spoonfuls. Because you’ll want much more than a few spoonfuls of this casserole. It’s really good.
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Heat the olive oil and fry the eggplant slices in batches just until softened. Do not overcook to mushiness as it will be difficult to handle them if they are too soft.
- Brush the bottom and sides of a baking dish with a little olive oil.
- Cover the bottom with half of the eggplant slices.
- Smother the eggplants with half of the tomato sauce. Top with half of the rice. Cover the rice with half of the Mornay sauce.
- Repeat with the remaining half of the ingredients. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top.
- Bake at 375F for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly.
- Serve the baked eggplant and rice casserole hot. Just by itself. You really don’t need anything to go with it.