Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Aubergine Parmigiana

We've come across aubergines in two books lately - one of which was Never too Late (the little six year old liked aubergines). No recipes or particular dishes were we're left to wonder how exactly they were served.  I have to admit that I only really knew three things about aubergines (besides the fact that it is also a shade of purple).
  1. They are also known as eggplants (at least they are here in the western U.S).
  2. They are the feature ingredient of Eggplant Parmigiana, which I don't think I'd ever had.
  3. Michael Franks sang a song about a woman who cooks eggplants. I bought his album The Art of Tea before I married Dr. van der Stevejinck.
So, I decided to give them a whirl. My nearly 16 year old (he's counting the days) was helping me put away groceries when he spotted the purple (aubergine) beauties. 'What do they taste like?' asked he. 'What do you think they taste like?' says I. 'The produce section.' says he.

I found a recipe by Jamie Oliver online - it looked good, but I was unable to grill eggplant slices today, so I ended up using a different recipe in an old Betty Crocker cookbook and combining it (a little) with the Jamie Oliver recipe.

Here's my version:

Stuffed Eggplant Parmigiana
2 smallish eggplants
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 can of diced tomatoes (15 oz.)
1 small can tomato paste
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano
a couple of leaves of fresh basil, chopped
around 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
around 1/2 a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Italian style breadcrumbs

  • Heat oven to 350'.
  • Brown sausage, onion and garlic in saucepan, drain thoroughly. While sausage mixture is browning, cut the two eggplants in half and scoop out most of the pulp (I left about 1/2 an inch), dice.
  • Combine in saucepan: sausage mixture, tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, oregano, salt. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add diced eggplant and fresh basil, cover and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  • Place eggplant 'shells' in a baking pan (I used a 9x13). Fill shells half full with sausage/tomato mixture, sprinkle with mozzarella. Heap remaining mixture on top and sprinkle with more mozzarella, Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs.
  • Bake, uncovered for about 30 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Verdict: Dr. van der Stevejinck loved it.  He had two servings for dinner and took a third serving for his lunch today. I liked it okay...but found the tomato sauce a little overpowering (Jamie Oliver suggests fresh in-season tomatoes...that sounds more to my liking). Fifteen year-old - wouldn't even try - way too much 'produce section' for him.


  1. We love eggplant. Especially eggplant parm!

    Your recipe looks delicious. I have another version of stuffed eggplant parm that has a creamy, cheesey mixture in the center. Either way, this dish SCREAMS calories! :)

    We also just slice the eggplants, in either direction, depending on how we plan to cook them, and do a flour, egg wash, bread- or cracker-crumb crust with various Italian seasonings and Parmesan cheese. We either bake them on a cookie sheet which we've sprayed or coated with olive oil, or we deep fry them. (My beloved got a deep fryer two Christmases ago and he's crazy about it!" The round version - from cutting cross-wise - stands up to the deep fryer best. The oblongs (from end to end) are better baked.

    We eat them like that as a snack or even as a side dish. And of course, we turn them into Parm, too.

    To me, "aubergine," is only a color. I have to stop and consider which veggie it must be if they are called aubergines.



  2. Betty Debbie--
    Too bad your son didn't the Eggplant dish--more for you and Dr van der Stevejinck! I am surprised though, because your recipe is basically pizza toppings on a veg! What almost-16 year old turns down pizza-flavored anything??!?!

    Betty Cindy--I'm with you in trying to translate English veggie names into American. Alligator pears had me stumped for a while--oh! Avocados! And Zucchini has a funny Brit name too, which has slipped my mind.

    Betty Barbara

  3. @Betty Barbara -- zucchini is sometimes "courgette" in Britspeak....

  4. Yep, and a bigger version (squash) would be marrow.
    From my own experience I've learned peanuts called monkey nuts over there. And we all know the cookies being "biscuits" thing. That still pops me out of the books. The idea of eating biscuits at 4 o'clock with tea? My My. I wonder what Brits here think when they see Biscuits and gravy on a menu. ;-)
    Here's a few more:
    sausage is "bangers."
    ham is "gammom",
    sardines are "pilchard",
    potato chips are "crisps."
    American dessert is "afters."
    And what Americans call molasses is "treacle," so treacle tart is really little molasses pies? Yikes! I'm imagining Pecan pie without the pecans. Oh dear. Now I'm sure that should go below the Cheese Board. Or is it above. You know what I mean. It should be a lower number.

    1. Dear BettyMary, further clarifications so that you can enjoy your food when you visit the UK.
      In the UK, a 'packet of biscuits' means factory-made biscuits that are sold in airtight wrappings. They can be savoury (to each with cheese, for instance) or sweet (chocolate covered or with 'cream-style fillings'.) But in the UK, there are many cookie shops: these sell hot, soft/chewy cookies that are wildly expensive. You only buy one at a time, usually.

      What an American calls a "biscuit" would be a "savoury scone" in the UK. The sweeter version is what is eaten with afternoon tea and is an essential feature of a Devonshire Cream tea: scone, jam, clotted cream. (heart attack optional).

      Ham is ham in the UK: you have slices of ham in your sandwich. Ham and cheese toasted sandwiches are popular. Gammon (with an "n" not "m" at the end) is a variant of ham but is pork that has been salted to preserve it. You have to soak it (to get the salt out), then boil it and bake it, to turn it into the piggy equivalent of hot salt beef. Pork is unsalted and is more common to eat than gammon nowadays, but gammon with pineapple is quite traditional. Pork goes with apple sauce. Ham goes with mustard.

      Sardines are sardines. Pilchards are pilchards. You can buy both at the supermarket. They are similar fish but labelled differently on the tin.

      What the USA calls "potato chips" would indeed be called crisps in the UK. In the UK and Australia, "hot chips" can be "fat" (or "home style") or "french fries" (meaning hot thin potato chips like you buy in McDonalds). "Wedges" are fat chips with skin on. "new potatoes" will be boiled or steamed, never fried.

      Desserts in the UK are always sweet. They can be called pudding or "sweets". But "Afters" can encompass sweet dessert OR savoury cheese/grapes/crackers/nuts. Afters is a wider term than dessert.

      A 'treacle tart' is NOT made with treacle: treacle is very dark, full of iron and not terribly sweet. Treacle Tart is made on "golden syrup" which refines the iron out of the sugarcane and leaves the sweet, golden sugar syrup that suits pancakes, toast, scones, ice-cream and puddings, toffees...and cookies (biscuits with oats and golden syrup).
      Happy eating.

    2. Thank you, Betty ____, for all the UK food info and explanations!

      BBC-Food - Gammon

      Sardines/Pilchards, M&J Seafood

  5. Betty Debbie, great recipe and photos. You should go in the food photo taking biz!
    I've made this in my big family days. I've never sliced it lenth-wise. That would be cool. However it would be futile with just Betty Megan home. I could use Betty Barbara's idea of pizza on a veg, but the only thing Betty Megan likes on pizza is pineapple and cheese. Umm, not liking that with Eggplant.
    The Professor would eat it, but he's on a Lose 40 pounds mission, so I'd have to lighten the recipe - Which will take all the fun out - Maybe after Lent starts. As food ceases to be fun in the Vue der Plane house during Lent.

  6. Here's my (relatively) low-fat eggplant parm:

    1.5 pounds eggplant (get two small ones; they'll be less bitter)
    1 pound part-skim mozzarella cheese
    2-3 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated
    4 slices white or whole wheat bread
    1 jar spaghetti sauce (ironically Three Cheese is low in fat)

    Preheat oven to 400 deg. Slice eggplant into circles 1/2 inch (roughly) thick. Oil a rimmed cookie sheet with olive oil and spread the eggplant disks out on the oil; sprinkle them liberally with salt. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then turn them over, sprinkle with a little more salt & bake for another 10 minutes.

    Reset oven to 350 deg.

    Meanwhile, whir the bread in a food processor to make fresh bread crumbs and add grated Parmesan cheese .

    Cut the mozzarella into 1/2 cubes; separate into two equal piles.

    Construct the casserole as follows:

    Spread a small amount of sauce on the bottom of a lidded casserole. Place a single layer of eggplant slices next, followed by a generous layer of bread crumbs and grated cheese (you'll be using 1/3 of the eggplant and 1/3 of the crumbs for each layer). Spoon on 1/2 cup sauce, and spread it around as best you can. (Doesn't need to be perfect.)

    Sprinkle 1/4 of your mozzarella cubes on top -- they won't cover, just make them roughly evenly spaced. Add another layer of eggplant, cheesy bread crumbs, sauce, 1/4 of the mozzarella cubes. Your final layers will be the rest of the eggplant, bread crumbs, the rest of the sauce (which should be nearly half the jar -- this you do want to cover the crumbs) and finally the remaining half of the mozzarella cubes.

    Bake it covered for 30 minutes at 350 deg. and another 20-30 uncovered. Serves 4.

  7. Actually, I've only seen peanuts referred to as "ground nuts" in the UK, leading to the funny name for peanut butter: ground ground nuts.

    Betty Ross's family came last August to visit. I had his sister-in-law Bryony (a great Betty name!) and nephew Jack in my car driving from Newark Airport back to our house. They decided to stop for a snack, and when Jack ordered a sandwich, they asked him if he wanted chips with that. Of course we know what he got, but he had been expecting French fries! I couldn't believe it -- I thought that was the very first bit of translation one did from Britspeak to American English!

    By the way, a "chip butty" is a sandwich made up of thinly sliced white bread, some butter and "chips" -- meaning the steak-fries one gets with a fish-and-chips meal. Yup: two forms of starch and two forms of fat. So yummy. So unhealthy...

  8. My experience with the monkey nut was back in the 70's so I looked it up to make sure I remembered it right.
    And here someone using it in the present, so I guess they use both. Ground groundnuts I love it!
    We usually send Betty Brigid home with as many jars of JIF as she can sneak in her luggage w/o going over the weight limit. Prof Barry loves the stuff and nothing they get in Ireland is the same, they say.

  9. a "chip butty" ... Yup: two forms of starch and two forms of fat
    That sound like Betty Megan's favorite meal to order out. Alfredo Noodles, garlic bread, with a side of hash browns. We tease her with, would you like a some mash potatoes and mac-n-cheese with that. 8-D

  10. Betty Magdalen, I was just reading a review of Atonement that a BXing friend released(she got a great catch on it!) Anyway, a child character in the book's name was Briony, and I couldn't figure out how to pronounce that in my head. How do you say Bryony?
    I've got the same problem with the name Rhys. These name pop me right out of the book. Do you get as distracted as I do when you are reading and you hit a name like Gijs? (Which may rhyme with Rhys for all I know!)

  11. Gross. Eggplant is on my short list of I will not eat it Sam-I-am.

  12. Rhys is Welsh and pronounced Reece

    Gijs is (I assume -- someone may know) Guys or Guyce

    Bryony & Briony is BRY-oh-nee

  13. Gijs is like Guyce with a guttural "g" in front.

  14. I just had a good laugh looking at the "recent comments" section. It bounces from alopecia to aubergine. I think today is being sponsored by the letter "A".

  15. It looks absolutely delicious! I need to just buckle down and figure out how make it myself.

  16. My baby (8!) is Reece -- for his Welsh great-grandfather, Rhys. My husband liked the name Rhys but not the spelling. Reece was our compromise. On my shortlist of favorite books is Atonement. It's weird because I'm not otherwise a big McEwan fan, tried several of his other books and didn't finish any.

  17. Betty Magdalen. So it's Bry - rhymes with Try, like in Brian OR Bry sounds like Brie, the cheese.

    ALHC, I like Rhys too. I tried to convince my sister to go with Reece for a nickname for her son Maurice, but she went with Mo. Her choice, but the former sounds like a classier guy. ;-)

  18. I started liking Reese with Hal Holbrook's character in Designing Women.
    Is Bryony a Welsh name too? My youngest granddaughter's name is Brynn. My son wanted another Celtic name for #3. It is, but it's Welsh not Irish, and means hill.

  19. BRY as in try. But I daresay someone out there answers to BREE-oh-nee.

    Betty Henry says "monkey nut" is usually used when the peanuts are still in the shell. I'd not heard of that term, so color me ignorant!

  20. Bryony is the heroine's name in Mary Stewart's Touch Not the Cat, yes?

  21. BRYONY

    BRY - uh - nee
    bry rhymes try
    uh as the a in try a nip
    nee the ee-sound a bit shorter perhaps than in knee
    braɪɘ.ni, Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary

    BRY - uh - nee
    audio, merriam-webster

    Bryony, pictures

    Bryony, plant/name, wikipedia

  22. Eggplant Parmigiana — yummy, yummy! Olive Garden... sigh
    I cannot believe the pledge would not even try the Stuffed Eggplant Parmigiana. Looks very tasty. If we ever refused to eat a new dish my mom would dish out one of her favourite sayings,
    German: Was der Bauer nicht kennt, frißt er nicht.
    They have the same saying in the Netherlands, by the way.
    Fries: Wat de boer net kin, dat fret er net.
    Dutch: Wat de boer niet kent, dat (vr)eet hij niet.
    = What the peasant doesn't know, he doesn't eat.
    I always meant to make Eggplant Parmigiana myself but I never got around to it. But I did prepare Moussaka several times, even crossing the recipes of Moussaka and Pastitsio so there would be pasta and eggplant in the dish.

    1. Actually, my mom would say it
      "op platt" (Low German) Wat de Bure nich kennt, dat frit he nich.

      Little red pen:
      Fries: Wat de boer net ken, dat fret er net.

    2. The joy of eggplant aubergine can be extended to moussaka (greek dish a bit like lasgne but with potato instead of pasta layers, and with lamb and aubergine instead of beef. But the rich tomato sauce can be present and the top layer is finished with bechamel (cheese) sauce like a lasagne.

      Aubergine salads from Turkey/Greece/Lebanon/etc. Many varities. Goes well with potato and capsicum (bell peppers).

      Japanese aubergine in miso paste: the most delicious winter vegetable. Stir fried chunks of aubergine that melt in your mouth, shiny with the sweet/savoury miso (soy bean paste). Who knew soy was so delicious?

      Chinese "sea spicy aubergine" with or without strong fish: a "hot pot" winter dish. Very good with lamb and chili sizzling platters.

      Chargrilled aubergine: fantastic at a BBQ. Great on steak sandwiches.

  23. Another use for eggplants/aubergines is the Greek dish moussaka -- think lasagna with eggplant as the noodle and a white sauce instead of a red one. Oh, and ground lamb in place of ground beef. Yep, just like lasagna -- only different.

    And if you want to turn potatoes into something absolutely delicious and completely unhealthy, I refer to you the French-Canadian (actually pan-Canadian these days) dish Poutine. That's steak fries with white cheddar cheese curds and a light spicy brown gravy over all, so the cheese curds get all melty. Ok, now I'm hungry.