Eggplant Pie

4 large eggplants (about 4 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium-large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 slices firm-textured whole-wheat bread, toasted and torn into small pieces
2 large eggs, well beaten with 1/4 cup evaporated milk and 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 cups coarsely shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 12 ounces)

  1. Spread the eggplant chunks one layer deep on four large rimmed baking sheets, sprinkle each pan of eggplant with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, toss well, spread again, and let stand for 30 minutes (this is to rid the eggplant of most of its liquid).

  2. Take the eggplant up by handfuls, squeeze out as much liquid as possible, drop into a colander, and rinse very well under cool running water; you’ll have to do this in small batches. Squeeze dry again, then spread on several thicknesses of paper toweling. When all of the eggplant has been spread on paper toweling, cover with more paper toweling and press down hard to extract as much remaining moisture as possible.

  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Coat a 13-by-9-by-2-inch heatproof baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

  4. Melt the butter in a broad-bottomed Dutch oven over moderately high heat, add the onion, and sauté, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the eggplant and sauté, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, or until touched with brown.

  5. Mix in the celery salt, onion salt, and pepper, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is soft. If there is excess liquid in the pot, raise the heat to high and boil uncovered for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring often.

  6. Set off the heat and mix in the toast, egg mixture, and half of the cheese. Scoop into the prepared pan, spreading to the edge, and scatter the remaining cheese evenly on top.

  7. Bake uncovered on the middle oven shelf for about 30 minutes, or until bubbling and brown. Let the eggplant pie stand 15 to 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.

  8. Serve as an accompaniment to baked ham or roast lamb, beef, turkey, or chicken.