Cheesy Fried Eggplant Casserole With Ground Beef And Banana Peppers
There are so many great ways to prepare eggplant. Its mild taste and soft, rich texture make it the perfect vegetable to compliment a whole range of dishes. In fact, eggplant is so versatile that we couldn't decide on our favorite way to serve it – we love the texture and taste of the skin, but we also love it when the rest of the eggplant's flavor is able to shine through. And choosing between baking it or frying it?! We just couldn't make up our minds, so we came up with this recipe for a cheesy fried eggplant casserole served with homemade tomato sauce, stuffed with a delicious ground beef filling, baked alongside banana peppers, and topped off with tons of cheese. It brings all of the amazing things about eggplant into 1 easy-to-make dish!
Yield: 5 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes
Difficulty Level: Easy
For the fried eggplant:
- 5 eggplants
- cooking oil for frying
For the homemade tomato sauce:
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ tsp thyme
- 1 cup vegetable broth
For the ground beef filling:
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil for frying
- 12 oz ground beef
- ½ green bell pepper, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp thyme
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 pinch of cinnamon
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup tomato sauce (store-bought)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella
- 4 banana peppers
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and heat a pot filled with cooking oil on the stove. Cut the tops off of the eggplants and partially peel off the skin, leaving thin unpeeled strips around each eggplant.
2. Deep fry the eggplants in hot cooking oil until tender and golden brown.
3. Once all of the eggplants are fried, dab them with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel to remove any excess grease and let them cool. For the homemade tomato sauce, heat the tomato paste, thyme, vegetable broth, and pepper on the stove and stir until combined. Pour the homemade tomato sauce into a baking dish and place the fried eggplants on top. Make 1 large vertical incision in each eggplant and pull each one apart gently.
4. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet and fry the ground beef. Add in the diced peppers, diced onions, and minced garlic and continue cooking the mixture until the vegetables start to soften. Stir in the thyme, cumin, cinnamon, salt, tomato paste, and store-bought tomato sauce. Bring everything to a simmer and cook the ground beef filling on low heat for 15 minutes.
5. Once the ground beef filling has cooked, remove it from the heat, spoon the mixture into the openings in the eggplants, and sprinkle shredded mozzarella on top.
6. Place 1 banana pepper between each stuffed eggplant, transfer the casserole dish to the oven, and bake the fried eggplant casserole at 350°F for 30 minutes.
The special peeling technique used to prepare the eggplants makes this dish look great while adding some subtle flavor and texture to it. It's the perfect meal any time of year, and it's so simple to make. Stuffed, fried, baked, and topped with cheese – this eggplant dish has it all!
Get the instructions for the Fun Spiral Eggplant Recipes featured in the bonus video.