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Eggplant Casserole (VRP 036)

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Eggplant Casserole is a rich and hearty dish that marries the tender, earthy flavors of eggplant with the robust taste of cheese and a hint of spice from Picante sauce. This recipe transforms simple ingredients into a comforting meal perfect for family dinners or a satisfying vegetarian main course.

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Eggplant Casserole

Eggplant Casserole

Front of the recipe card for Eggplant Casserole.

Food History

Eggplant, a staple in global cuisines from Italian to Indian, is celebrated for its versatility and meaty texture, making it a favorite among vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. The use of eggplant in casseroles is a relatively modern culinary development, particularly popular in American cooking for its ability to absorb flavors and provide a satisfying, hearty base.

Timeline

  • Early 1900s: Eggplant begins to gain popularity in American gardens and kitchens.
  • Mid-20th Century: Casseroles become a quintessential American dish, with cooks experimenting with various ingredients.
  • Late 20th Century: International flavors like picante sauce become more common in American households, blending into traditional dishes like casseroles.
  • Today: Eggplant casseroles are enjoyed as a versatile dish that can adapt to various flavor profiles and dietary preferences.

Recipe Discussion

This Eggplant Casserole recipe features layers of creamy, mashed eggplant combined with sautéed onions and green peppers, enriched with bacon drippings for added depth of flavor. The egg helps bind the mixture, while seasoned breadcrumbs add a pleasant texture. The casserole is cleverly assembled in layers with Cheddar cheese in the middle and a topping of Picante sauce and Parmesan cheese, creating a delightful blend of textures and flavors that bake perfectly.

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  1. Casserole Dish – Essential for baking and serving this dish.
  2. Large Skillet – For sautéing vegetables to perfection.
  3. Box Grater – Perfect for fresh, finely grated Parmesan.
  4. Mixing Bowls – A must-have for preparing the ingredients.
  5. Vegetable Peeler – Makes peeling eggplant quick and easy.

Serving Suggestions

This casserole is filling enough to serve as a main dish, perfect alongside a crisp green salad or some crusty bread. It can also serve as a robust side dish with grilled or roasted meats for those who prefer a heartier meal.

Preparation Tips

To prevent the eggplant from becoming too watery, ensure it is well-drained after boiling. Sautéing the onion and green pepper until they are just tender helps to maintain their texture and flavor throughout the baking process. For an extra crispy top, consider broiling the casserole for the last few minutes of cooking until the cheese is bubbly and golden.

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Eggplant Casserole Recipe

Eggplant Casserole
Yield: 6 servings

Eggplant Casserole (VRP 036)

Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplant
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon bacon drippings
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¾ cup (3 ounces) shredded mild Cheddar cheese
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons picante sauce
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Peel eggplant, and cut into 1-inch cubes; cook in a small amount of boiling water 10 minutes or until tender.
  2. Drain well; mash.
  3. Saute onion and green pepper in bacon drippings.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Combine eggplant, egg, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper; mix well, and add onion mixture.
  6. Spoon half of eggplant mixture into a greased 1½-quart casserole; sprinkle with Cheddar cheese.
  7. Spoon remaining eggplant over cheese, and top evenly with picante sauce; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  8. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

The Eggplant Casserole is a testament to how a few simple ingredients can be transformed into a deeply flavorful and satisfying dish. Whether you’re looking for a vegetarian main course that doesn’t skimp on taste or a unique side that will impress you at your next dinner party, this casserole will surely deliver.

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