Preview: Eggplant and cornbread are the base of this Spicy Southwestern Eggplant Dressing recipe. Add in all sorts of veggies, including green chiles, for a savory side dish or vegetarian casserole with unstoppable flavor.
Have you seen any of the Heartland TV series? The young neighbor girl named Mallory often offers opinions no adults would dare speak.
For example: “What is this stuff?” as she looks down at her plate. When told it was Shepherd’s Pie, she remarked, “It looks more like something the shepherd stepped in.”
I hope this recipe doesn’t look that bad, but I’ll admit cooked eggplant is the opposite of photogenic. Is there a word for that? Can somebody help me? In ultrasound, we call it “ultrasound ugly.” Maybe we could call eggplant “food ugly.”
The unfortunate appearance of eggplant won’t keep me from eating it. I’m obsessed with it. Here’s proof as seen in these recipes already published on this blog: Ratatouille Soup, Roasted Eggplant and Potatoes, and Corn and Eggplant Vegetable Medley.
If you are tired of green beans, broccoli, and carrots, why not try some eggplant. Although I call this “dressing” because it has cornbread in it, you could just as easily substitute rice or quinoa in place of the cornbread.
Ingredients and substitutions:
- EGGPLANT: People often ask me if they need to peel eggplant. According to Better Homes and Gardens, “While the skin of a small young eggplant is edible, the skin becomes bitter on larger or older eggplants and should be peeled.” I generally peel mine.
- ONIONS: Use white or yellow onions. Frozen chopped onions are most convenient.
- CELERY: Did you know you can freeze celery? It’s perfect to use in a recipe like this.
- RED PEPPERS: Substitute yellow or orange peppers if that’s what you have. Green peppers can also be used but will give a slightly bitter edge to the flavor.
- MUSHROOMS: White button mushrooms are perfect. Portobello are fine, too but probably not worth the extra money if you are going out to buy them.
- MILK: The recipe specifies low-fat milk but you can use whatever type you have on hand.
- SAGE: Poultry seasoning is the best substitute if you don’t have sage. Thyme or savory are other possibilities.
- GREEN CHILIS: Chopped are the easiest. These peppers give this dish a Southwestern flare.
- CORN: Can you have a Southwestern casserole without corn?? Frozen or fresh are fine.
- CORNBREAD: The next time you have leftover cornbread, throw it in the freezer. It will come in handy for this recipe.
- CHEDDAR CHEESE: Buy it shredded or shred it yourself. I usually use medium cheddar but sharp or extra-sharp would be good, too.
How can I cook eggplant so it doesn’t become mushy?
I’m not a fan of boiled eggplant as called for in so many eggplant recipes. I much prefer to grill it using a grill pan, so it doesn’t get mushy. In the absence of a grill pan, sauté the eggplant in a skillet brushed with olive oil.
Since I’m always looking for ways to trim calories, I’m rather sparing with the cheese. Otherwise, I would stir an additional two ounces of shredded Cheddar into the casserole just before baking.
How to make Spicy Southwestern Eggplant Dressing:
More Vegetable Casseroles:
- Green Chili and Yellow Squash Cornbread Combo
- Roasted Eggplant and Potatoes
- Corn and Eggplant Vegetable Medley
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p.s. If you have any questions or suggestions, you can email me privately: Paula at saladinajar.com.
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Spicy Southwestern Eggplant Dressing
- 1 small to medium eggplant - cooked and diced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup onions - chopped
- ½ cup celery - chopped
- ¼ cup red pepper - chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic - chopped
- 4 ounce button or portobello mushrooms - sliced or chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground sage
- 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup low-fat milk
- 1 4-oz can can chopped green chilies
- 1 cup corn - fresh or frozen and thawed
- 1-1/2 cups stale cornbread - crumbled
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 oz Cheddar cheese - shredded
- Use greased grill pan or skillet to cook peeled and sliced eggplant, flipping when browned. See picture above. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add onions, celery, peppers, and garlic and saute until soft. Add mushrooms and sage to the skillet and cook another 3-4 minutes.
- Sprinkle flour over the cooked veggies. Stir to distribute evenly. Add milk and continue to stir until thickened. Add cooked and chopped eggplant, green chilies, corn and cornbread crumbs, stirring gently. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook at 350˚F for 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle cheese over the top during the last 10 minutes.