Spicy Eggplant Dressing with Green Chiles and Cheese

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Sneak Preview: This Eggplant Dressing gets spicy with green chiles and cheese. Add in veggies and leftover cornbread for a savory side dish or a vegetarian main dish with a Southwestern taste.

Southwestern Eggplant Dressing

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Have you seen 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 at her plate. When told it was Shepherd’s Pie, she remarked, “It looks more like something the shepherd stepped in.”

This recipe doesn’t look 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.” So, maybe we could call eggplant “food ugly.”

Recipe inspiration:

The unfortunate appearance of eggplant won’t keep me from eating it. On the contrary, 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, you could just as easily substitute rice or quinoa in place of the cornbread.

If you often have leftover cornbread, you might want to look at this recipe for Green Chile and Yellow Squash Casserole. However, if you need a recipe for cornbread, this Sweet Jalapeno Cornbread is our favorite.

eggplant dressing in a bowl with serving spoon

Ingredients and substitutions:

  • EGGPLANT: People often ask me if they need to peel eggplant. Better Homes and Gardens says, “While the skin of a small young eggplant is edible, the skin becomes bitter on larger or older eggplants and should be peeled.”  I tend to peel eggplant because of the appearance, not the taste.
  • 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 BELL 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 mushrooms are also fine but probably not worth the extra money if you go 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 CHILES: Chopped chiles are the easiest. These peppers give this dish a Southwestern flare.
  • CORN: Can you have a Southwestern casserole without corn?? Fresh is best, but frozen is fine.
  • CORNBREAD: The next time you have leftover cornbread, throw it in the freezer. It will come in handy for this recipe. Or substitute cooked rice (white or brown rice) to make eggplant rice dressing. Quinoa is another sub.
  • CHEDDAR CHEESE: Buy it shredded or shred it yourself. I usually use medium Cheddar, but sharp or extra-sharp Cheddar 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.

grilling eggplant in a grill pan to keep it from getting mushy

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.

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How to make Eggplant Dressing:

browning eggplant cubes
Either grill eggplant until tender and golden brown using a grill pan, or sauté in a medium skillet over medium heat and with small amount of olive oil. Set aside.
softening onions, peppers, celery, garlic, sage and mushrooms
Soften onions, celery, peppers, garlic, sage, and mushrooms in butter in a large skillet.
sprinkling flour over veggies
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour over softened veggies.
add 1 cup milk
Stir 1 cup of milk into the vegetable mixture.
Stir and cook until white sauce thickens
Cook until the sauce thickens.
Add green chilies
Toss in green chiles.
add eggplant
Add browned eggplant.
adding corn to skillet
Then corn.
finally add bread crumbs
Finally, add cornbread crumbs and seasoning.
Combine the whole mixture
Combine all ingredients and bake in an ovenproof skillet or casserole dish at 350˚F for 20-25 minutes.
sprinkle baked casserole with cheese
Pull the dish out of the oven and sprinkle with cheese. Place the dish back into the oven for an additional ten minutes.
Southwestern Eggplant Dressing in red casserole dish ready to serve.
Serve hot as an entree or side dish. A sprinkling of parsley is a nice addition.

Variation: Add a half pound of cooked ground beef, ground pork, or diced chicken when you adding the cornbread.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I need to soak eggplant before cooking?

In my experience, soaking is unnecessary if you avoid buying overly large eggplant that appear to have been around too long. Soft spots, discoloration, and a dull skin are signs of old age.

Can I freeze this casserole?

Yes. Freeze the unbaked casserole without cheese on top. Double-wrap and freeze for up to a month. When you get ready to eat it, add extra time for baking. Sprinkle the cheese on top in the last 10 minutes.

Parting Thoughts: Some people think of “dressing” as a Thanksgiving dish. But try serving this side dish with brisket, ribs or grilled sausage. It is sure to become a favorite combination!

If you have questions or suggestions, email me privately to Paula at saladinajar.com. Hope to see you again soon! Paula

Spicy Southwestern Eggplant Dressing

Southwestern Eggplant Dressing uses cornbread as a base with all sorts of veggies added, including green chiles, for a savory side dish or vegetarian entree.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Vegetables and Side Dishes
Servings 8 servings


  • 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
  • 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.


Nutrition Facts
Spicy Southwestern Eggplant Dressing
Serving Size
1 serving
Amount per Serving
Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Author: Paula Rhodes
Course: Vegetables and Side Dishes
Cuisine: American
Keywords: eggplant dressing, Southwestern, green chiles
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Recipe Rating


  1. Eggplant in its natural state is one of the most beautiful vegetables ever- so many gorgeous shades of purple and pink. Cooked eggplant however will never win any beauty contest, but I can forgive it because it is just so delicious! This sounds like a great way to prepare it. 🙂

  2. Bobbie Bentneedle says:

    My husband’s beloved grandma used to make eggplant dressing – and I’ve missed it for years now. Don’t think this is the same recipe as her’s since she used stovetop stuffing mix in her’s but this sounds mighty tasty, so I’ll try this out on the clan ;0}

    1. Bobbie,
      For years, Wyatt’s cafeteria used to make an eggplant dressing with white bread. I think it was quite popular. Wonder if Grandma’s recipe was anything like that one. Thanks for writing.

      1. The Wyatts eggplant dressing is what I want to make!! It wascso good..do yiu have tge recipe??

        1. That was a good recipe. I used to have it but can’t find it now. Did you try to Google it? paula