An easy weeknight dinner that everyone will love! This baked rice with aubergines and cheese is the true meaning of comfort food.
Us Maltese love our baked ross; ross il-forn! In fact this recipe is one of my most popular here on the blog. For this reason, lately I’ve been wanting to experiment more with creating different versions of baked rice. This is my first recipe of this series. Baked rice with aubergines and cheese is a simpler vegetarian baked rice dish to make when you still want that comfort food but want slightly different flavours.
What is baked rice with aubergines and cheese?
This recipe consists of a rich sauce made with aubergines, onion, garlic and tomato sauce. Then parboiled rice is mixed in the sauce together with half of the cheese. For the cheese I like to use provolone or scamorza as their unique taste shines through this dish. However, you can use any cheese you fancy; like mozzarella or cheddar! After placing the rice mixture in the dish, I sprinkle a generous amount of grated parmesan cheese or grana padano to get a cheesy crunchy crust.
How to cook the rice?
Whenever we make this baked rice, we always parboil the rice before. I don’t recommend cooking the rice completely before baking, as this might result in a whole mush. Some people choose not to cook the rice beforehand when making baked rice, and just make the sauce runnier so that the rice has more liquid to absorb. I personally, have never tried this method, so can’t give the proper method for this. However, one thing I know is that this method might take longer to actually cook.
One thing that I do recommend: wash your rice before cooking! Apart from cleaning the rice from any debris and dirt, washing the rice helps to remove any excess starch. This prevents rice from becoming a big mush!
Can I store leftover baked rice?
I only store leftover baked rice in fridge for not more than 1 to 2 days. When reheating, just make sure that the rice is heated thoroughly and is piping hot!
Baked Rice with Aubergines and Cheese
- 400 g rice
- 400 ml tomato sauce passata
- 1 small white onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 250 g aubergine chopped
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 300 g scamorza/provolone diced or grated
- 50 g parmesan cheese grated
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- Bring to a boil a pot filled with water. Once it starts to boil, season with salt. Add the rice and cook on low heat for about 5 minutes. The rice shouldn't be cooked all the way.
- In a large pan or pot, heat the olive oil and fry the onion for a few minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and let cook for another minute.
- Add the chopped aubergines and the oregano. Let everything cook on medium heat until the aubergine starts to brown. Season with salt and pepper.
- Lastly, add the tomato passata and let it simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F.
- Once everything is done, butter a baking dish. I used a glass dish with a volume of 3L. Set aside.
- Mix the rice together with the aubergine sauce and half the cheese.
- Place half of the mixed rice in the dish and gently press it down to pack it in. Add on top the remaining cheese. Cover with the rice mixture and sprinkle the top layer with the grated parmesan cheese and sprinkle extra black pepper on top.
- Bake the dish on the middle rack of your oven for about 15 minutes until the cheese melts and starts having a light golden brown colour.
- Once ready, let it rest for a few minutes and serve warm!
If you have any questions, feedback or comments on this recipe, please leave a comment below. Please also rate this recipe by double clicking on the stars below. If you did make this recipe, tag @apronandwhisk and hashtag #apronandwhisk, as I’m curious to see what you create!
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