A stick of cinnamon flavors this engaging combination of eggplant and white cannellini beans. Serve as a vegetable side dish with grilled hamburgers or lamb patties.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
6 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cinnamon stick
1 medium eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1-1/2 cups canned cannellini beans, drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously butter a 2-quart casserole. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic and toss to coat. Stir over medium heat until the onion is tender. Stir in the tomatoes, then add the vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Submerge the cinnamon stick in the mixture. Bring to a gentle bubble and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cut the rounds of eggplant into 1/2-inch-wide sticks, then cut the sticks into 1/2-inch cubes. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish. Add the beans and stir to combine. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
3. Remove the cinnamon stick from the sauce and force the sauce through a food mill. Take the eggplant from the oven and stir in the tomato sauce. Blend in the basil and parsley.
4. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the bread crumbs and toss to coat. Scatter the buttered crumbs over the eggplant mixture and return to the oven. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.