Balkan Eggplant Casserole ♥ Recipe

Today's vegetable recipe: Thin slices of eggplant in a creamy-cheesy custard. Good hot or at room temperature. Low carb.

A few weeks ago, I swore off new cookbooks. 101 Cookbooks? Ha! That's nothing! With all the will power of a limp noodle, I lasted ... um, well, would you believe, all of two days? Katy, bar the door!

At a cookbook swap, I spent all of four bucks for six cookbooks. Turns out, all are inspiring, good introductions to cuisines and specialty dishes with many recipes for a health-conscious home cook. First up, Jewish Cooking whose author, Marlena Spieler, has written many cookbooks on the same subject.

This recipe for eggplant (aubergine, anyone?) casserole caught my attention for two reasons. First, unlike most eggplant recipes, the eggplant actually looks like eggplant not blobs of colorless eggplant flesh. Second, it can be served either hot from the oven or at room temperature, which makes it perfect for potlucks, buffet suppers and big family gatherings. I liked it both ways, though perhaps a smidgin better served warm. It's rich but not heavy. Paired with a salad, it would make a good vegetarian supper but I served it on the side. It slices beautifully into pie-shaped pieces so looks impressive too.



GATHERINGS? You bet! Fellow food blogger Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy is hosting a virtual cocktail party to mark her blog's first anniversary. What with all the party food, I suspect there'll be nary a vegetable in sight so am sending her thin slices of this Balkan Eggplant Casserole.

BALKAN EGGPLANT CASSEROLE

Hands-on time: 50 minutes
Time to table: 90 minutes
Serves 8 or more

1 large eggplant, about 1 pound, ends trimmed, skin left on, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
Olive oil

SAUCE
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
Freshly grated nutmeg
Cayenne pepper to taste
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 ounces Parmesan, grated (reserve some for the top)
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350F.

Brush one or two large skillets lightly with oil, heat on MEDIUM HIGH until water flicked off your fingers into the pan sizzles. Add a few eggplant slices to the skillet and let cook on one side until slightly golden, turn over and repeat. Set aside while completing the remaining slices.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the flour until smooth and let cook a minute, stirring continuously. A tablespoon at a time at first, add the milk, stirring in what's added until adding more. (This tablespoon at a time process ensures that the sauce will end up smooth, not lumpy with bits of flour.) Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Season with nutmeg, cayenne, salt and pepper. Let cool a bit. Whisk in the eggs until smooth, then the Parmesan (reserve some for the top).

ASSEMBLY Grease a low-profile casserole dish such as a quiche pan. Arrange a layer of slightly overlapping eggplant rounds, then top with some of the sauce. Repeat until eggplant is gone, leaving some sauce for the last layer. (Today's casserole used three layers, a perfect 'thin' slice after baking.) Top with reserved Parmesan.

Bake for about 35 minutes or until top is golden and eggplant is hot and bubbly all the way through and the custard is firm. Serve immediately or let cool to serve at room temperature.


KITCHEN NOTES
It takes awhile to cook the eggplant, so two skillets does help.
Eggplant will suck up oil like crazy so use just enough to brown the slices. I found that in non-stick skillets, I needed to only brush the surface of the pan each time to have enough oil to create a bit of a crust and achieve the golden color.





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Looking for healthy ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous Alphabet of Vegetables. Healthy eaters will love the low carb recipes and the Weight Watchers recipes.
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9 comments:

This looks absolutely gorgeous... and I agree, the fact that you can tell it's eggplant is really appealing. They're a great veggie and shouldn't be hidden!

And using two skillets covers up more of the stove top (could it possibly keep it cleaner ;) Certainly must be eggplant season it's all over the stores and blogs. So are you surprised that I have two in my fridge! Way to go Allanna.

Buying cookbooks is one of my vices too! A cookbook swap sounds like a great idea. But it would be hard to decide which ones to part with!

Ok I think I'm in love! This is absolutely, hands down best looking eggplant dish I have every seen. Thank you thank you
Vikki
vikkiskitchn.spaces.live.com

What a great dish! Thanks so much for sending it over! I know it will be a big hit at the buffet table!

This looks great, I love eggplant!

I love eggplant- but a certain other person does not. Hence I seldom make an eggplant dish. This looks so delicious, however, I may have to adapt the recipe to gluten-free and dairy-free and make it for moi.

Alanna ~ One of the reasons I love aubergines is because dishes made of them usually are enjoyable at both room and oven temperatures. This is a saving grace when one is waiting on late guests or when one cannot wait for the dish to cool down. Your Balkan Eggplant Casserole as an interesting submission - with cayenne and paremsan! I, too, often buy great cookery books at bottom dollar prices - it almost feels criminal to pay so little for them, but it is lucky for us cookery book addicts that the market is currently flooded with such offerings.

I had to try this and am so glad that I did. Num! I've had some bad luck with eggplant in the past but this was very good. Thank you for posting it!

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna