Eggplant & Mushroom Cottage Pie

Cook time 2 hours
Servings 6

We usually associate a hearty cottage pie with a meat filling but eggplant and mushroom make a great vegetable substitute. This dish is not only loved by my vegetarian connoisseurs but by my meat-loving family and friends too.

Ingredients

30g dried porcini mushrooms

2 eggplants (about 800g), peeled and cut into 3 cm cubes

Salt & pepper

125ml (½ cup) extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, grated

3 garlic cloves, chopped

½ tsp chilli flakes

1 cinnamon stick

2 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and chopped, plus extra to serve

400g mixed mushrooms (such as button, shiitake, oyster) roughly chopped

2 tbsp tomato paste

250ml (1 cup) red wine (such as shiraz or cabernet sauvignon)

1 x (400g) can whole peeled tomatoes, juices drained and tomatoes crushed

50g walnuts, finely chopped

20g Parmesan, finely grated


For the mash

6 Desiree potatoes (about 1 kg), peeled and quartered

Salt & pepper

50g Butter

180ml (¾ cup) Milk

Eggplant & Mushroom Cottage Pie

We usually associate a hearty cottage pie with a meat filling but eggplant and mushroom make a great vegetable substitute. This dish is not only loved by my vegetarian connoisseurs but by my meat-loving family and friends too.

Method

Soak the porcini mushrooms in 500 ml (2 cups) of hot water for 15 minutes to rehydrate.

Toss the eggplant and 1 tablespoon of salt together and stand in a colander for 30 minutes to soften and drain slightly. Rinse the salt off the eggplant, then pat dry with a paper towel.

Heat a large, heavy-based sauté pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and half the eggplant and fry for 5–6 minutes until the eggplant is golden. Set aside on a plate and repeat with more oil and the rest of the eggplant. Add the remaining oil, the onion, carrot, garlic, chilli flakes, cinnamon and chopped rosemary and cook over medium heat for 3–4 minutes to soften. Stir in the mixed mushroom and coat in the onion mixture, then cook, stirring occasionally, for 3–4 minutes to soften and get some colour on the mushroom. Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes to darken slightly. Deglaze with the wine and simmer until reduced by at least one-third. Add the crushed tomatoes. Roughly chop the porcini and add along with the soaking liquid, leaving the sediment at the bottom of the bowl. Stir through.

Return the eggplant to the pan and add a pinch of pepper. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour, or until the ragu is thick and rich.

Meanwhile, to make the mash, place the potato in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and add a good pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, then cook for 20 minutes until the potato is soft. Drain in a colander and allow the steam to dissipate. Return the potato to the pan and mash, then add the butter and mash through. Pour in the milk and whip with a wooden spoon until a smooth thick mash forms. Check the seasoning and add a pinch of pepper.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Pour the eggplant ragu into a 2-litre capacity casserole dish. Dollop the mash over the top. Sprinkle over the walnuts and parmesan and scatter on the extra rosemary. Place the dish on a baking tray and bake for 25–30 minutes until golden on top.

Slow Cooker Method

Follow steps 1, 2 and 3.

Pour the mushroom mixture into the slow cooker along with the eggplant. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 7–8 hours, or until the ragu is thick and rich.

Follow steps 5, 6 and 7.