Gourmet Veggie Mama

Eggplant, Mozzarella and Saffron Rice Bake

I have been meaning to make this eggplant bake for weeks, but something always seems to come up. I love the combination of flavors and textures — tomato and saffron, and rice instead of pasta — and it looked so easy to put together.

Now that we are at the tail-end of eggplant season,* I have stopped getting eggplant in the CSA box, and I had to hunt some local eggplants down (thank you, Greenling!) to make this dish finally happen. I’m so glad I did, because it was utterly delicious.

eggplant saffron rice bake

Dinner is served.

* It’s a hot-weather crop. For some reason eggplant always brings to mind gooey comfort-food dishes like eggplant parmesan, so I didn’t realize it wasn’t a cold-weather veggie until we first joined a CSA.

The hubby, a reformed eggplant-hater, raved about it, and Nora scarfed down two servings.

nora eggplant bake

Om nom nom.

I’d say it’ll be finding its way back to our table next time eggplant is plentiful!

Eggplant, Mozzarella and Saffron Rice Bake
  • 2 large eggplants (about 2 lbs total)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, plus additional for brushing
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • pinch saffron
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 4 cups tomato sauce, divided
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella (or cubed fresh mozzarella), divided
  • 1 cup grated parmesan, divided
  1. Slice the eggplant crosswise into ¼-inch slices. Lay the slices out on folded paper towels and sprinkle them lightly with salt. Set aside for 10 minutes, and preheat the oven to 425°.
  2. Blot the moisture from the eggplant slices with paper towels and arrange on baking sheets. Brush or spray the slices on each side with olive oil and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown, turning once halfway through.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and stir until softened and translucent. Add the rice and stir for about 2 minutes. Stir in the saffron and wine and cook, stirring, until the wine is slightly reduced, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, covered, until the rice is al dente, about 8 minutes.** Remove from the heat and set aside.
  5. Spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish or casserole of similar size. Layer about half of the eggplant slices over the top of the sauce. Add the saffron rice, spreading out in an even layer. Spread half of the mozzarella and half of the parmesan over the rice. Pour half of the remaining tomato sauce over the cheese and top with another layer of the remaining eggplant slices. Top with the remaining tomato sauce and the remaining mozzarella and parmesan and cover the dish with foil.
  6. Bake until the sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on top. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
** The rice will still be undercooked and have a very firm bite at this point. That's fine, since it will cook more as the dish bakes.


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8 Thoughts on “Eggplant, Mozzarella and Saffron Rice Bake

  1. That.

    I want that.


    I want that now. Please and thank you.

    The pictures with the red sauce yummy looking rice grains make me want to fly to Texas and beg passing strangers for directions to your kitchen, because I know they’d say, “Just follow your nose”
    Jester Queen recently posted..Trifecta: NonfictionMy Profile

  2. Nora is such a cutie! I’ve had to acclimate myself to eggplant as well so I understand your husband’s reticence but this dish does look mighty tasty!
    Shelley recently posted..Triple Chocolate Pumpkin PieMy Profile

  3. Oh man, I love eggplant and this sounds awesome! I still see it at the farmers markets, but keep meaning to buy some for a chile recipe. Also, Nora is such a good eater! My 3yo niece is beyond picky.
    Jessica recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: Warm HeartsMy Profile

  4. I grilled and froze eggplant slices this summer (intending to add them to spaghetti sauce made with slow-roasted tomatoes, also hanging in the freezer awaiting the right time). I’m curious if they would work in this.

    Bookmarked, and I’ll get back w/ you if I use them this way.

    kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts recently posted..Simple Sautéed Chinese Cabbage–Thursday Quick TakeMy Profile

  5. Oh man does this looks good! Love the saffron rice too. And your little one looks too darn cute enjoying it 🙂

    Thanks for linking up and sharing your goodies with the rest of the part!

    ps: LOVE your new header!!
    Heather @ In Her Chucks recently posted..Apple CrispMy Profile

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