Slow cooker eggplant casserole is an easy and great recipe made with fresh eggplant, portabella mushrooms, sauce, and lots of cheese. This vegetarian dish is a perfect dinner that works as both a main dish and side course.
What do you call layered slow cooker recipes with lots of cheese, eggplant, portabella mushrooms, and sauce? It's not a slow cooker eggplant lasagna or eggplant parmesan recipe, it’s sort of a casserole - or eggplant bake. Whatever it is, I call it a DELICIOUS recipe!
ADDED BONUS: If is one of those super easy recipes that is delicious any night of the week.
To make this amazing crockpot eggplant recipe you will need:
- Eggplant - Two medium or possibly one large eggplant should suffice, depending on the size and shape of your slow cooker. The fresher the better - freshness is what makes this one of the best eggplant recipes.
- Portabella mushroom caps - The exact quantity will depend on the size and shape of your slow cooker and your mushrooms.
- Grated Parmesan Cheese - freshly grated parm always tastes best, when possible
- Marinara Sauce - fresh or from the jar, both work well
- Mozzarella cheese - sliced (shredded will work too)
- Basil - fresh chopped basil is best
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
One of the first steps is optional: peeling off the skin of the eggplant (you can choose to leave it on. Next, slice and place the eggplant place it in a colander over a medium bowl and sprinkle liberally with salt liberally. This is a great way to both draw out some of natural moisture and to remove any potential bitterness. After draining for 30 minutes, use paper towels to wipe salt and excess water from eggplant slices.
Next, layer your dish similarly to how you would layer lasagna. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of your sprayed slow cooker. Add a layer of each of the following: eggplant, sauce, grated parmesan plus spices, and sliced mozzarella.
Repeat all four layers, but with portabella mushroom in the place of eggplant slices for the second round, The third round will be an exact duplicate of the first - with layers of eggplant. Be sure the final product ends with the remaining sauce and a nice thick layer of cheese on the very top.
Total cooking time will be 4-6 hours until all vegetables are cooked through.
This excellent recipe is basically a complete meal on its own. It is great served with a nice thick loaf of crusty Italian bread.
It is also a great side dish for simple chicken recipes such as pizza chicken or chicken parmesan. My favorite way to serve this dish is right alongside an Italian roast served on top of cauliflower rice!
It is delicious topped with some sliced green onions or fresh parsley. If you would like to spice things up, sprinkle with chilli flakes It pairs beautifully with dry white wine or even red wine.
The best thing about this slow cooking recipe is how well it keeps. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container or bag for 3-4 days. Storing in meal-sized portions makes for easy reheat-and-eat future meals. Leftovers can also be frozen for up to 3 months and easily reheated in the microwave.
😉Hints & hacks
- Have everything on the shopping list besides fresh basil? That's ok, you can mix 1 tablespoon of dried basil in with the parmesan, garlic powder and onion powder mixture instead.
- You may have extra liquid in the dish after you start removing pieces from your slow cooker. That is ok! It's just water from the eggplant. The dish will still be delicious! If you are bothered by it, next time let your salted eggplant sit for a longer period of time to make sure as much water drains out as possible.
- Slow cooker liners are an optional but helpful hack whenever using a crockpot. They allow you to cook with little to no cleanup. I like to buy mine in bulk for a better per-piece price.
- In the market for a new slow cooker? I love mine!
- Fun Fact 1: The mushroom used in this recipe can be spelled Portobello OR Portabella. For consistency purposes, The Mushroom Counsel has officially adopted the spelling Portabella.
Eggplant naturally has a lot of water in it. Salting and allowing it to sit and drain for a while before cooking will draw out some of the water. Additionally, it will remove some of the natural bitterness some eggplant may have. This dish can come out pretty watery, so salting in advance helps to cut that down a bit .
Both the salt and the any excess fluid it draws out should be wiped off of your eggplant before cooking.
This is an optional step, but it is meant to help prevent the dish from sticking and to help make serving (and clean up) easier.
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Slow Cooker Eggplant Casserole Recipe
- 6 quart or larger slow cooker - or 3.5 quart or larger casserole style slow cooker
- Knife and cutting board
- crockpot liner (optional)
- non-stick cooking spray of choice (I prefer olive oil)
- 1 large eggplant
- 6 portabella mushroom caps
- 24 oz. marinara sauce
- 1 lb. sliced mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- peel eggplant and slice into slices that are about 1-inch thick. Thicker slices (such as 2-inch slices) will take longer to cook
- lay eggplant in a colander and toss with salt. allow to sit for 30 minutes or so.
- pat eggplant with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture
- remove stem from portabella mushrooms, if applicable
- place grated parmesan, garlic and onion powder together in a small bowl and stir to combine
- spray slow cooker with non-stick spray
- spread a few tablespoons of sauce around bottom of slow cooker
- add a layer of eggplant
- cover with thin layer of sauce
- sprinkle with a layer of the parmesan mixture
- sprinkle some chopped basil on top
- next, place of layer of sliced mozzarella until fully covered
- repeat this 5 step sequence with portabella caps in place of eggplant (sauce - portabella - parmesan mixture - basil - sliced mozzarella)
- repeat the 5 step sequence again with eggplant this time (sauce - eggplant - parmesan mix - basil - mozzarella)
- Be sure to finish with a layer of cheese on top.
- cover and cook. slow cooker time should be 4-6 hours on low until all vegetables are fully cooked through
- cut into squares and enjoy a wonderful slow cooker meal!
- Peeling the eggplant is optional. You can cook and serve with the skin on.
- The number of layers may vary based on the size and shape of your slow cooker. If you have a very deep slow cooker, you can add a 4th layer, if you choose.
- When you cut this dish, you may see extra liquid laying in your slow cooker. The amount will depend on how long you allowed your eggplant to dry. This is normal and will not effect the flavor. If I have leftovers to store, I drain the extra liquid prior to storing.
- See above instructions for additional information on how to prepare eggplant for cooking
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