Sneak Preview: This Spicy Eggplant Recipe with green chiles and cheese stands out from the crowd. Add veggies and leftover cornbread for a savory side dish or a vegetarian main dish with a Southwestern flavor.
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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.”
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 instead of 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.
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 its 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.
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 Eggplant:
Variation: Add a half pound of cooked ground beef, ground pork, or diced chicken when you add the cornbread.
Frequently Asked Questions:
In my experience, soaking is unnecessary if you avoid buying overly large eggplant that appears to have been around too long. Soft spots, discoloration, and dull skin are signs of old age.
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!
Help at Your Fingertips: For questions or suggestions, email Paula at saladinajar.com. If you need help, I’m happy to troubleshoot via email (faster than leaving a comment). Attach pictures and as many details as possible for the best advice.
Spicy Eggplant Recipe with Green Chiles and Cheese
- 1 small to medium eggplant,
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup (80 g) onions, chopped
- ½ cup (50 g) celery, chopped
- ¼ cup (37 g) red pepper, chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 4 ounce (113 g) button or portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 1 teaspoon ground sage
- 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (227 g) low-fat milk
- 1 4-oz can (113 g) can chopped green chiles
- 1 cup (154 g) corn, fresh or frozen
- 1½ cups (153 g) stale cornbread, crumbled
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 oz (56 g) Cheddar cheese, shredded
- Use greased grill pan or skillet to cook slices of 1 small to medium eggplant, , flipping when browned. See the picture above. Set aside.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add ½ cup (80 g) onions, chopped , ½ cup (50 g) celery, chopped , ¼ cup (37 g) red pepper, chopped , and 1 teaspoon garlic, minced and saute until soft. Add 4 ounce (113 g) button or portobello mushrooms, sliced and 1 teaspoon ground sage to the skillet and cook another 3-4 minutes.
- Sprinkle 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour over the cooked veggies. Stir to distribute evenly. Add 1 cup (227 g) low-fat milk and continue to stir until thickened. Add cooked and chopped eggplant, a 1 4-oz can (113 g) can chopped green chiles,1 cup (154 g) corn, fresh or frozen, and 1½ cups (153 g) stale cornbread, crumbled, stirring gently. Season with½ teaspoon salt and Freshly ground black pepper.
- Cook at 350˚F (180˚C) for 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle 2 oz (56 g) Cheddar cheese, shredded over the top during the last 10 minutes.