Eggplant, Mushrooms and Cheeses Bake

Both mushrooms and eggplants have unique texture and mild flavor, that blends beautifully with cheeses. In the dish here, I decided to combine both in one bake, and the result was just what I was hoping for: tasty aromatic bake, with different soft textures of the mushrooms and eggplants, unique mild red wine flavor from the goat cheese and red wine, and crispy top, from the Panko breadcrumbs.
The bake can be served as a vegetarian entrée, as part of a brunch buffet, or as a side dish with chicken or meat. Try it and enjoy.

Notes:
* For more rustic texture and extra fiber, I didn’t peel the eggplant. If you feel this is too rustic for you, feel free to peel it.
* Drunken Goat cheese is a semi-firm Spanish cheese. It is cured in red wine, thus has a purple rind and a slight flavor of red wine. It is available in many stores, and online.
* For easier grating of the cheese, cut it roughly and place in a small food processor, fitted with the metal blade. Add 1 Tbs flour and process.

Makes: 16
Prep time: 25 minutes
Baking time: 1 hour

Ingredients:
1 Tbs light olive oil
2 Tbs butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 tsp salt + to taste
½ tsp freshly ground four peppers mix + to taste
8oz (225 grams) white mushrooms, legs removed, roughly cut
1 Large eggplant, cubed (about 4 cups) (see notes)
¼ cup flour
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
¼ cup rosé or red wine (I used rosé)
7 oz (200 grams) Drunken Goat cheese, grated (see notes)
1 lbs (455 grams) small curd cottage cheese, 4% fat
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
3-4 dried sage leaves, crumbled
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup Panko bread crumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C). Line a 12”x8” (20.5cm x 30cm) baking pan with baking paper.
2. Mix the oil, butter and garlic in a large frying pan. Sauté over medium-high heat for 30 seconds, and add the onion, salt and pepper. Mix and sauté, until the onion softens and starts to caramelize.
3. Add the mushrooms, mix and sauté until they start to brown. Add the eggplant, mix and cook for 6-7 minutes, mixing occasionally. Add the flour and mix well. Gradually, while mixing, add the milk and bring to an almost boil. Add the wine, mix and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Add the goat cheese and mix to melt.

4. Remove from the heat, let cool a bit and add the cottage cheese. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste, along with the nutmeg and sage. Add the eggs and mix well.

5. Sprinkle ½ cup of Panko breadcrumbs over the lined pan. Add the mixture over it and level with a spatula. Sprinkle the rest of the Panko breadcrumbs on top.

6. Bake for 1 hour, until the bake is set and the top is golden-brown. Let cool in the pan for five minutes before cutting.

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