Eggplant and Pepper Casserole Keto Friendly

Eggplant and tomato sauce and cheese go together well. For my next Keto friendly casserole I am including these ingredients along with Poblano peppers.

Here it is ready to bake. Read on to see how I made this simple meal.

Eggplant casserole ready to bake
Small casserole with eggplant layered meal

Ingredients For the Casserole

First I sliced the one eggplant into thin slices. I layered them in a sieve and sprinkled with salt to pull out any bitterness. I’ve found varying advice about salting, and I never leave the salt on. Some places say the salt pulls out the water so the eggplant won’t be soggy. Some say it’s for bitterness.

Here’s what I do: layer with salt in a colander for 20 – 30 minutes. I then rinse and remove moisture between paper towels. I certainly don’t want salty eggplant. This seems to work fine for me and it hurts nothing.

how to treat eggplant
Eggplant ready to layer

Meanwhile I am cooking one can of organic tomato sauce and mixing in coconut sugar, basil, oregano, and whatever you like in your tomato sauce. It simmers on low while I fry the peppers.

Organic tomato sauce
One can works for this recipe

I let that simmer while I de-seed the peppers and brown them in ghee. I’m still not sure about what to do with these peppers, but adding them to a casserole is flavor-inducing. I discovered this in my ground beef casserole.

poblano peppers sautéed
Sautéed peppers

I also shredded a block of parmesan cheese. Using fresh parmesan is definitely the way to go. It has much more flavor and goodness than the powdered stuff in a canister.

Layer some sauce in the bottom, add a layer of eggplant, cheese, peppers and so on. My layers were created to use up all the ingredients with sauce and cheese for the top. It was covered with the glass cover that came with the dish and baked at 350 for 25 minutes.

This meal is Keto friendly, with no big-carb ingredients. It could be eaten with a Quick Keto bread, if you are still trying to get over the no-noodle and no-bread thing.

Keto friendly eggplant and poblano casserole
Little casserole for a low-carb diet

I’ll tell you that this eggplant casserole was totally delicious. I love my new little casserole dish, because what I bake is for my eating pleasure only, and it’s the perfect size. The dish does not have handles, so that is a bummer, but it’s small enough (1 1/2 quart) to be lifted easily.

I’ll probably freeze some of it for later.

Update on Growing Eggplants That Survive Year Round

This year-round gardening with vegetables still blows my mind, but I have a few plants that have been in my garden for over a year now. Yes, they go dormant (and even look dead) when the cold weather moves into Florida, but they come back and produce even better the second time around.

Will they still be around next year? I have no idea. But this Spring season has been a great one for my bell pepper plant and now my eggplant is showing signs of producing as well.

In the Spring of 2017 I planted two eggplant plants. One was eaten up by a tomato worm and the other continued to grow and grow. It gave me no eggplants until well into the season. I finally got one. Only one. I tried the paintbrush pollination method but still nothing happened.

The plant got huge. I had to cut it back because it was taking over the garden bed. When the cold weather came, the entire plant turned brown and I thought that was it.  I’m used to plants dying and having to be planted in Spring.  When my vegetable plants don’t die, and instead begin to grow again, it amazes me.  I didn’t even know vegetables could do that.

dead eggplant
Eggplant plant turned brown during Florida winter.

However, at the base of the plant some greenery remained. As the weather warmed, more leaves and stems appeared.
Screen Shot 2018-05-09 at 5.55.53 PM
The plant is now large again, and getting lots of flowers, which contain spikes.

eggplant flower
Spikes on eggplant flower

As of now, May 2018, the plant has been flowering like crazy but again the eggplants themselves were missing. So the other day I pulled lots of the flowers off (that is when I noticed how spiky they were!). I don’t know if that is what the plant needed, but suddenly I now see a small eggplant. There are signs of maybe a couple more ready to pop out as well.

Too many flowers? I don’t know if that was a coincidence, but if your eggplants are not producing, try removing some of the buds.

little eggplant
A new eggplant growing on this plant in it’s second year

In the Yard End of December 2017

While the rest of the country is dealing with freezing temperatures (sorry), I was taking photos of my yard and garden in the December sunshine.

Yesterday, December 30th I decided to get some photos of happenings in the backyard. Because much of the northern part of the country is suffering with snow, ice and unbelievably cold temperatures (you have my sympathy), I felt lucky to be outside in the warm sunshine and 60 degree temps.

Today I wanted to write this short post to share what it’s like to be able to avoid winter and watch a garden grow literally year round. This is new for me and I am not trying to brag. I miss New England even though you must suffer through the bad winters. It’s beautiful there and quite boring and dull here in Florida – until the monotony is interrupted by a hurricane.

curly poinsettia in the ground
Poinsettia 2017 leftover from 2016

I know that my poinsettia is not looking all that good, but who knew a poinsettia could grow in the ground and live from year to year? I discovered this by walking around my new neighborhood and checking out the plants in yards I passed. People were growing poinsettias. So after last Christmas, when I bought this odd looking one, I put it out back in the pot and continued to water it. Finally, just a few weeks ago, I planted it in the ground next to the hibiscus. I was able to bring it in last year when the coldest weather hit, so we’ll see how it fares in the ground. Because it’s next to the house I think it will do fine.

ladybug macro
Ladybug on Eggplant Flower

I caught this pretty little ladybug crawling over an eggplant flower and decided to try to capture it on my iPhone. The blinding sun made it difficult to see as I took pictures, but finally I got into a good position where the shade wasn’t a problem. Then I took a bunch of photos as the sweet little bug crawled around the backside of this purple flower.
Ladybugs are the best. They are a gardener’s friend. But don’t try to eat them, they don’t taste good at all. I accidentally had one in my mouth once – and yuk.

eggplant tall tree
December 30th – My eggplant tree

The Eggplant plant is still going strong. I’ve eaten one eggplant from it. The leaves are truly gorgeous and I photographed them in hopes of doing a drawing one day soon.

December garden pepper plant
Green pepper plant in December

Never in my life have I been able to grow my own green peppers. But this fall I have eaten many from this plant. I also have a smaller plant which currently has white flowers on it (below). And I’ve used some hot jalapeño peppers occasionally too. I’m used to pulling up my vegetable plants by fall, but now I guess I will just let them keep growing and see what happens.

white buds on pepper plant
December – buds on the green pepper plant

Here in central Florida we are expecting some cold weather next week. I know, I know… I’ll get no sympathy for temps in the 30’s when many people don’t see anything above single digits, with wind chills well below zero. BUT… this is Florida and our plants are still growing and not accustomed to freezing.
We will have to bring inside what we can and cover the rest.

Lime tree in December
Lime tree – buds and new growth in December

One tree I will be moving indoors is my Persian Lime. I’ve eaten limes for weeks now – in October and November – and now I see there is new growth and buds on the tree!

Learning to garden and grow fruit in Florida is new to me, but I am open to learning new things. This blog is a journal of sorts to reference because I forget quickly what was blooming and when.

Happy New Year!

How to Grow Eggplants When the Flowers Keep Falling Off

Using a paintbrush to help with pollination of my big eggplant tree.

eggplant tall plant
My Eggplant “Tree”

You may be wondering about my post image of the eggplant with a paintbrush. I’m hoping that little brush will help with eggplant production. When your eggplant flowers keep falling off, you may need a little paintbrush too.

For many months now I have had an eggplant “tree” growing in my garden.  I’m not familiar with growing eggplants.  In my New England yard I think I tried a few times and picked maybe one eggplant from my own garden!  The plants never grew very large – maybe a couple feet high. Here in Florida, my eggplant has become a small tree. And this photo was taken AFTER I pruned big branches off the thing!

Because of the warm climate, vegetable plants just go on living for many, many months. I am not used to that. The New Hampshire growing season was very short. When frost and freezes don’t happen, I suppose the plants could go on living forever. I don’t know. Does that happen? I thought vegetable plants were only good for one season.

Eggplant flower
I get lots of these

The plant produced many little purple flowers, and I kept hoping to see the dark purple vegetable pop out, but it never happened …. until just recently.

I figured there might be something wrong, since the plant itself is healthy and big.  It gets plenty of water and sun.  The weather has been hot, so I attributed the lack of fruit to that. However, the days have become cooler and now that one eggplant had set, I hoped to see more. That is not happening. All the other flowers are still falling off.

title eggplant beginning to grow
November 15th – Finally, a Little Eggplant is Growing!

I searched online and found a helpful article at Gardening Know How, which told me that lack of pollination may be the problem.

So this morning I went out with my little paint brush and swished it around inside some of the flowers. This is what that article said to do. Now I’ll wait and see if I get more eggplants forming.  (Update: this did not help.  I never got any more eggplants – that season – Read what happened the second year.)

I don’t love to eat eggplant, but I would definitely use them in a stir fry or vegetable lasagna dish.  I just need this big plant to give me something to cook with!

In the meantime, I am using green peppers daily. I never thought I could grow them, but it appears I just had to wait.