Pepper, Basil Bring Out Best in Eggplant Dish

Shaw is a free-lance writer in Los Angeles.

Speckled with red pepper and fresh basil and served in a pool of cheese-dusted tomato sauce, this delectable eggplant dish takes no time to prepare--once you've organized the ingredients.


1 small white onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 Japanese eggplants, peeled, sliced and quartered

3 tablespoons minced fresh basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

1 sweet red pepper, roasted and peeled

White wine or water

2 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and drained of juice

1 medium new potato, boiled, peeled and diced

1/2 cup fine whole-wheat bread crumbs

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup grated Parmesan or asagio cheese

Extra-virgin olive oil

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Grated Parmesan cheese

Whole fresh basil leaves

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onion turns translucent. Add eggplant, minced basil and oregano and continue to saute over low heat.

Chop 1/2 red pepper and add to pan. Pour in wine 1 tablespoon at time to keep mixture from sticking. Cover and steam until eggplant is cooked through, checking often to add wine as needed to prevent sticking.

Remove mixture from heat and transfer to work bowl of food processor or blender. Add tomatoes, potato, bread crumbs, eggs and 1 cup Parmesan cheese. Process until well combined.

Grease 6 individual ramekins with extra-virgin olive oil. Slice remaining red pepper into thin strips. Place 3 strips in star pattern on bottom of each ramekin. Distribute eggplant puree evenly among ramekins. Place in large baking pan of hot water.

Bake at 425 degrees until lightly browned and knife comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes.

Distribute Fresh Tomato Sauce evenly among 6 serving plates. Sprinkle each with grated Parmesan cheese. Turn timbales out into pool of sauce. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. Serve at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

8 Roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

Dry white wine


Freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in medium skillet. Add garlic and saute briefly, until garlic starts to brown. Remove and discard.

Add tomatoes to hot oil and cook, stirring constantly, until tomatoes break down. Add basil and oregano, cover and simmer over low heat 15 minutes, adding wine as necessary to prevent sticking and burning. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes approximately 2 cups.

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