Grilled Eggplant Vegetable Cakes

Amidst another round of Christmas baking, I’m always looking for ways to prepare dinner while mixing cookie dough or making pastry dough. Namely, using my oven or a pot on the back burner. I also don’t want to have to baby something while my hands could be covered in flour so I opted for playing with a lot of vegetables. I happened to have a lot of different veggies in the fridge, either already blanched or can be easily set in an oven for awhile doing its own thing. One of my favourites, eggplant, had to be a key player because I had an especially large volume of it. One of the greenhouse growers at the local farmer’s market sell them by the bag so I end up getting a ton to work with haha!!

I love grilled eggplant, but an indoor grill doesn’t always get the texture that I like. Tonight, I brushed eggplant slices liberally with oil and placed it under the broiler/grill in the oven. Giving it time to broil for awhile (20-30 minutes), it had an opportunity to get a gloriously crispy skin and the overt mushiness to which the eggplant flesh can be prone was not there, but rather dried and retaining a pleasantly soft texture. It was perfect to fold into potato-veggie cakes!

Grilled Eggplant Vegetable Cakes

1 medium eggplant (about 300g/12 oz), thickly sliced with skin on

1 medium onion, peeled and thickly sliced

2 Tbsp cold pressed canola oil

225g/8 oz (or 2 medium) starchy potatoes (Yukon Gold or Russet varieties are good), chopped

1 tsp salt

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, finely shredded

1/2 cup green beans, blanched until tender, then cooled (I just had leftover in the fridge), cut into 1 cm (1/2″) pieces

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup wheat bran

1/4 cup red fife flour (or any whole wheat flour)

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika

1/2 tsp salt

Oil, for frying

2 medium tomatoes, chopped, for garnish

   Preheat the broiler on your oven to 260C/500F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle the parchment with the oil and rub it evenly over the parchment paper.

   Place the eggplant and onion slices on the oiled parchment paper. Turn the slices to ensure coverage of oil on both sides. Grill under the broiler for 18-20 minutes on one side on a rack set to the second to highest spot in your oven. Flip the eggplant and onion slices over and return to the oven under the broiler. Grill for a further 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

   While the eggplant and onions are grilling, add the potatoes to a small pot, cover with water, bring to a boil over medium high heat, cover with a lid, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Drain the water and mash the potatoes coarsely. It doesn’t have to be a smooth mash. Transfer to a medium bowl.

   Chop the grilled eggplant and onion. Add them to the mashed potato. Add the grated carrot, chopped celery, green beans and 1/2 tsp salt. Blend together with your hands to get a uniform mixture.

   Divide the mixture into four. Form each quarter of the mixture into 10cm/4″ cakes about 3cm (1-1/2″) thick.

   Place the bran and flour in a small bowl. Add the dried oregano, paprika and salt. Blend together. Dredge each of the formed veggie cakes in the bran mixture, ensuring a complete coverage of the coating.

   Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon or two of oil and when it is smouldering but not smoking, add two of the prepared veggie cakes. Brown for 2-3 minutes on each side and because of the thickness, brown the sides for about 30 seconds at a time, rotating to ensure a thorough browning on all sides. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining veggie cakes.

To serve:

   Place two of the browned veggie cakes on a plate. Scatter some chopped tomato around it. Serves 2.

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