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A VEGETARIAN THANKSGIVING: Recipe for Thanksgiving eggplant strata

11/05/2014 12:26 EST | Updated 01/05/2015 05:59 EST
If you really want the vegetarians at your Thanksgiving table to give thanks, start by not serving them a roasted faux meat. We admit, there can be a time and place for not-meats, but Thanksgiving isn't one of them.

Instead, consider making a hearty vegetable dish that can serve as the main course for non-meat eaters, while doubling as a delicious side for the carnivores. And for that role, we offer this deliciously creamy strata that marries layers of roasted eggplant, delicata squash and red cabbage with a rich bechamel sauce. Think of it as a white sauce lasagna crossed with ratatouille.

And to help you out as you struggle to get all the various dishes on the table, this strata is easily prepped the day before. On Thanksgiving, just pop it in the oven for about 35 minutes and it's ready.

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THANKSGIVING EGGPLANT STRATA

Start to finish: 1 1/2 hours (30 minutes active)

Servings: 10

Olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large red onion, sliced

4 cups sliced red cabbage

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

1 tablespoon ground coriander

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

3 delicata squash (about 3 pounds total)

3 thin Japanese eggplants (or other small eggplants)

5 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups whole milk

1 1/3 cups plain Greek yogurt

1/3 cup chopped fresh mint

Heat the oven to 425 F. Mist a large (3- to 4-quart) casserole dish with cooking spray.

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat a splash of olive oil. Add the garlic, onion and cabbage and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender. Stir in the apricots and coriander and cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper, then set aside.

While the cabbage cooks, roast the squash and eggplant. Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut each half into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Toss with a splash of olive oil, season lightly with salt and pepper, then spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Slice the eggplant into 1/4-inch-thick slices, toss with oil, salt and pepper, then spread evenly on a second rimmed baking sheet.

Roast both vegetables for 25 minutes, stirring halfway through, until very tender and starting to brown. Set aside. Lower the oven to 375 F.

To make the bechamel sauce, in a medium saucepan over medium heat melt the butter. Add the flour and stir until the mixture looks like wet sand. Whisk in the milk, pouring in 1 cup at a time to ensure it remains smooth. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the yogurt and mint. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

To assemble the layers, spread half of the cabbage mixture in an even layer in the prepared pan. Top with half of the squash. Spread a thin layer of the bechamel sauce over the squash. Top with half of the eggplant slices, then another thin layer of sauce. Repeat with the layering with the remaining ingredients, ending with a good layer of sauce.

The strata can be assembled to this point, wrapped and refrigerated overnight, or baked immediately. When ready to serve, uncover and bake for 30 minutes (a bit longer if the strata has been refrigerated), or until bubbling and browned. Allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving.

Nutrition information per serving: 250 calories; 80 calories from fat (32 per cent of total calories); 10 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 25 mg cholesterol; 31 g carbohydrate; 7 g fiber; 18 g sugar; 11 g protein; 260 mg sodium.

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