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Eggplant is a versatile vegetable that people love very much. . . or not.

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I am always on the lookout to convert those of the latter camp.

Eggplant’s mild flavor makes it a “blank canvas” for so many other flavors. It can be roasted, grilled, braised and made into delicious dips.

My recipe this week features eggplant in an Italian-inspired vegetarian dish that might be just the ticket for the holiday weekend.

Roasted eggplant envelops a savory filling of roasted cauliflower and pasta. Serve it with your favorite tomato-based pasta sauce for a satisfying meal.

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Eggplant tart

(For 6-8 people)

2 large eggplants, sliced ​​lengthwise into 1/2-inch (1.3 cm) pieces

2 cups (500 mL) cauliflower florets

1/3 cup (75ml) olive oil

3 eggs

1 cup (250 mL) ricotta cheese

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1/2 cup (125 mL) grated Romano cheese

1 cup (250 mL) shredded fontina or mozzarella cheese

1/2 tsp. 1/2 tsp (2 ml) red pepper flakes

3/4 tsp. (4ml) salt

1 cup (250 mL) basil leaves, torn

1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped sun-dried tomatoes

3 cups (750 mL) cooked short tubular pasta

1/4 cup (50 mL) fine breadcrumbs

3-4 cups (750 ml – 1L) of your favorite tomato sauce

Directions:

1. Place the eggplants on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Brush both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt. On another smaller baking sheet, place the cauliflower florets, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt.

2. Roast the vegetables in a preheated 425 F (220 C) oven until lightly caramelized (about 25 to 30 minutes). Remove and let cool.

3. Brush a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan with olive oil. Start layering the eggplant pieces around the pan (like a flower) making sure the bottom of the pan is completely covered. You should also have an overhang of at least three inches (7.5 cm).

4. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, cheeses, pepper flakes, salt, basil and sun-dried tomatoes. Stir in pasta and roasted cauliflower.

5. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on the bottom of the aubergine-lined pan.

6. Spoon pasta mixture on top.

7. If you have leftover pieces of eggplant, put on it.

8. Fold the eggplant pieces on top. Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil.

9. Bake in preheated 375 F (190 C) oven for about 45 to 50 minutes.

10. Remove from oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes. Run the knife around the edge. Invert the mold onto the plate. Release the springform pan. Cut into wedges and serve with tomato sauce.

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