This is an old school dish with a new twist. Italian sausage takes the place of ground lamb; it and its subtle fennal tastes are absorbed by the brown rice, stretching those flavors in a healthy direction. Along with a host of herbs, those flavors are drawn into the raw, thinly sliced eggplant during baking. A gluten free Parmesan Bechamel sauce melds the layers of eggplant, rice, and pork together in a delicate and savory fashion. Smatterings of thin sliced tomatoes and goat cheese tastefully embellish the casserole. Good groceries!
2 medium eggplants, sliced crosswise or lengthwise 1/8 inch thick (with mandolin or good knife)
¾ cup Mississippi Blue Beulah Land Tan, Beulah Land Medley, or Missimati Bayou Bouquet Fragrant Brown Rice
1½ cup chicken stock
Olive oil for cooking
3 tbsp garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
½ red onion, minced
1 pound bulk Italian sausage
1 tsp fresh sage, fine chopped
½ tsp fresh rosemary, fine chopped
1 tsp thyme, fine chopped
1 tbsp sweet basil, fine chopped
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 or 3 fine tomatoes, sliced very thin for garnish
Crumbled Feta or other goat cheese, for garnish
4 cups Bechamel Sauce (ingredients follow)
4 tbsp butter
¼ cup Delta Belle Rice Flour
4 cups sweet milk
1 tbsp fresh ground nutmeg (about 1 small nut)
1 cup Parmesan Reggiano, shredded
In medium saucepan, bring rice, 1 tbsp oil, and chicken stock to boil. Reduce heat, cover with tight fitting lid, and simmer until done for 35 minutes. Fluff rice with fork, and turn up heat to evaporate any extra liquid. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
In large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and sauté garlic, yellow, and red onions until onions soft. Add sausage, cooking until crumbled and done. Blot with paper towel to absorb extra oil. Add sage, rosemary, thyme, and basil and sauté for 1 minute. Add cooked rice and sauté for 3 minutes, blending well. Add can of diced tomatoes, blend well, and sauté for a couple minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
To make Bechamel: In medium sized thick bottomed saucepan, melt butter, and whisk rice flour into melted butter over low heat. Add salt, and continue whisking and heating until light tan colored roux obtained. Heat milk until just before boil. Add milk one cup at a time to roux, stirring briskly. Add ground nutmeg, whisking until medium thick sauce obtained. Add 1 cup shredded Parmesan, and whisk until melted. Set aside.
Spray 9 x 13 oven proof pan with cooking spray. Divide sausage and rice, sliced eggplant, and Bechamel sauce into about 4 portions. Place one layer of sausage and rice on bottom, then layer of sliced eggplant, then a portion of Bechamel sauce. Repeat until resources exhausted. Top with thinly sliced tomatoes and crumbled goat cheese. Bake for 40 minutes, remove from oven and let set for 20 minutes or so. Enjoy!