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IDEA ALLEY: 4 old eggplant casserole recipes for the season

by Kelly Brant | August 10, 2022 at 1:51 a.m.
(Illustration by Kelly Brant)

I hadn't received any recipe submissions by deadline, so for today's column I thought we'd revisit a seasonal favorite from past Idea Alley columns and food stories.

With the permanent closing of Franke's Cafeteria finally sinking in (Homer's Kitchen Table now occupies the space of Franke's last location) and eggplant season in full swing, eggplant casserole seemed like the perfect topic for the week.

This recipe, which is not official, has been circulating around the Alley since 1985.

Eggplant Casserole Like Franke's

  • Butter or margarine
  • 1 large OR 2 small eggplants
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Dash ground black pepper
  • 2 cups canned tomatoes, well drained
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • Green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped, optional (no amount given)
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 2 cups finely crumbled cornbread
  • Milk
  • Grated cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 2-quart casserole dish with butter or margarine. Set aside. Peel and cube eggplant. Cook in water until tender. Drain well. Add salt and pepper and mash with a potato masher. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, onion and bell pepper (if using) and mash thoroughly. Stir in the mashed eggplant, along with the eggs and cornbread crumbs. Mix well. Transfer to prepared casserole dish. Add enough milk to cover, then top with grated cheese. Bake 30 to 35 minutes.

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This recipe for Baked Eggplant appeared in Down Idea Alley in 1955. It was sent in by Mary Miller of Little Rock and claimed to be better than Franke's.

Baked Eggplant

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons fat such as bacon drippings
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cups onion
  • 1 bud (clove) garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon beef base OR 1 beef bouillon cube
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 or more slices dry bread, torn into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 tablespoons grated sharp cheddar cheese, plus more to taste, divided use
  • Butter
  • 2/3 cup dry bread crumbs OR crushed cornflakes

Peel the eggplant; boil in salted water until tender. Drain and lightly mash.

In a very large skillet, add the fat and fry the celery, onion and garlic until tender. Add the bell pepper, tomato, beef base, 1/3 teaspoon ground black pepper, ¾ teaspoon salt, the bread and Worcestershire sauce. Add the cooked and drained eggplant. The mixture should not be too juicy, so if necessary add another slice of bread or cook a minute or so longer before adding 3 tablespoons (or more) of the cheese. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.

Pour into a buttered baking dish. Top with bread crumbs or cornflakes, remaining 3 tablespoons of cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbly.

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Here is another take on eggplant casserole, but with bacon. It is from "Culinary Treasures," Woman's City Club, Little Rock.

Eggplant Casserole

  • 1 eggplant (medium-size)
  • ½ cup bacon, diced
  • ¼ onion, chopped
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup
  • ¾ cup grated cheese
  • ½ cup buttered crumbs
  • Paprika

Wash, pare and dice eggplant. Cook in boiling, salted water about five minutes. Drain and place in greased casserole. Cook bacon until soft; add onion and cook until bacon is crisp and onion is lightly browned.

Add tomato soup and cheese. Stir over low heat until cheese is melted.

Pour soup mixture over eggplant; top with buttered crumbs and a dash of paprika. Bake in a moderate oven (375 degrees) for 25 to 30 minutes.

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And finally, another from the 1950s. This one swaps cheddar cheese for parmesan and skips the tomatoes.

Italian Eggplant Casserole

  • 1 medium eggplant, diced
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook eggplant and onions in water to cover for 20 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Transfer to a buttered casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serves six.

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