In this comforting casserole, garden fresh veggies are roasted and then folded into a creamy cheese sauce before baking in the oven until the whole thing reaches bubbly, cheesy perfection. We love a good oven bake because dinner bakes up in one pan, and let us tell you… there are so many things to love about this one.
A lot of the wonderful flavor that this dish has going on is due to roasting the veggies first. Roasting helps veggies release some of their natural sugars and brings out their subtle sweetness, as well as deepening the overall flavor of the veg. This simple first step gives this dish a unique flavor for a veggie casserole and we just love it. Our version here features eggplant, tomatoes and onion, but it is really adaptable to whatever you have on hand. Mushrooms or zucchini would be great options, for instance!
Aside from the awesome roasted flavor, this bake is reaaaallly cheesy, which is never a bad thing as far as we’re concerned. We like to use a sharp cheddar because it stands up well to the creamy sauce and other flavors. We’ve topped the whole thing with a hearty sprinkling of crushed crackers and they give each bite a crisp contrast to the tender veggies below. While any breadcrumb will do, the crackers add such a nice buttery crunch.
It’s always nice to have a great vegetarian option for potlucks or when company is coming over, but we make this one all the time for our meat-loving family and it doesn’t disappoint. The cheese and creamy sauce make it feel plenty hearty, and the egg adds a healthy dose of protein while helping to bind the whole thing together really well. It’s a crunchy, cheesy veggie extravaganza and we hope you love it as much as we do!
Cheesy Eggplant Bake
Serves 6-8; 1 hour
- 3 medium eggplants, peeled and cubed
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 4 cups milk, heated
- 2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 cup butter crackers, crushed
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- Olive oil, as needed
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish, set aside. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Spread the eggplant, tomatoes, and onion out on the lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and thyme. Bake until eggplant is tender, about 20-25 minutes.
- While the veggies are roasting, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes before gradually whisking in the warm milk. Continue stirring until mixture has thickened.
- Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/2 cups of the cheese. Whisk in the beaten eggs until thoroughly incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Fold roasted veggies into cheese sauce and pour entire mixture into prepared baking dish. Top with crushed crackers and remaining shredded cheese.
- Reduce oven to 350°F and bake until cheese has melted and is golden brown, 30-35 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!