This sturdy and hearty stew is something that both vegetarians and carnivores will enjoy. Serve over creamy polenta or another grain of choice along with a salad and dive into a tasty and healthy fall dish. If meat is required at your dinner table, grilled Italian sausage would pair quite well.
In a large skillet, heat over medium high and then add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and season with a little salt, stirring frequently until the onion turns slightly golden and softens, about 10 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.
In goes the diced eggplant and season again with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, stirring often, cook until the eggplant starts to turn golden.
Then add the tomatoes, crushing each tomato with your hand and removing the hard nub at the top of the tomato, if needed. Stir well and season again with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, cooking until the sauce begins to thicken and the flavors have started to meld, about 10-15 minutes.
Turn off the heat and allow the flavors to marry a bit more as it cools on the cooktop. Taste the stew and adjust seasoning, if needed.
Just before serving, check and see if the stew needs to cook a little more. My sauce was thick and the eggplant still a little too al dente, so I added some water (a cup) and let it continue to cook so the eggplant became somewhat soft but was no longer al dente. Then stir in freshly chopped or torn basil leaves, about 5-7 leaves. Stir well to combine and let it cook another few minutes so it permeates the stew.
Heat thoroughly and when ready to serve, spoon polenta, couscous or brown rice onto a plate or bowl and top with the stew. Place a whole basil leaf (or two or three) on the top, a sprinkle of Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper. If using, garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.