Straying from meat replacements, Janet DeGras, second-place winner in VT’s 2008 Reader Recipe Contest, re-created this typically lamb-filled classic with eggplant as the featured ingredient. “The density of eggplant makes it a good substitute for meat, and its creaminess goes really well with mashed potatoes,” DeGras notes. The inside-out technique of putting the green vegetables on top of the casserole instead of inside adds color to the dish and pick up crunchiness as they bake.
1. Place potatoes in large pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook 10 to 15 minutes, or until soft. Drain, and mash with milk and butter. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté 5 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Stir in tomatoes, eggplants, parsley, basil, garlic flakes, and sea salt; season with pepper. Simmer 20 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Remove from heat, and stir in Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, and eggs. Spread potato mixture over top, banking up sides a bit.
3. Heat remaining 2 Tbs. oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add green bell pepper and zucchini, and sauté 7 to 10 minutes, or until just tender.
4. Fill center of mashed potatoes with sautéed bell pepper and zucchini, and sprinkle with black pepper, if desired. Bake 20 minutes, or until heated through. (Baking will take less time if mashed potatoes are hot at time of assembly.)