is actually an oversized berry which was first cultivated in China in the sixth
century. The glossy purple eggplant skin contains "nasuin," a potent
antioxidant, so use eggplant unpeeled. It is an edible member of the nightshade
family—as long as it is cooked. Raw eggplant contains "solamine," a
toxin which is destroyed by cooking. Look for plump fruit.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, crushed in a garlic press
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
½ cup hot water
2 teaspoons beef base
1 (14 ½-ounce) can Italian-style tomatoes, undrained
16 saltine crackers, crushed in a bag with a rolling pin
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Béchamel or White Sauce
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
3 large egg yolks
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Pinch ground nutmeg
Sprinkle dried parsley
1 medium sized eggplant, unpeeled
eggplant: Cut eggplant into thin rounds, sprinkle
with salt. Lay in a colander and leave in sink to drain
for 1 hour. This helps to draw out the moisture and draws out
some of the bitter juices.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 .
3. Meat sauce: In a 5-quart nonstick sauté pan, heat oil and
cook onion until translucent. Add garlic and brown the beef.
Stir in the parsley, tomato paste, pepper, salt, water, beef base
and tomatoes. Simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Add the crackers and nutmeg to the meat sauce. Remove the
meat from the pan and place it in a small bowl.
5. Béchamel sauce: In the same pan, melt the butter and add
the flour. Whisk in all the milk at once and cook until
thickened. Remove from heat, then whisk in the egg yolks.
6. Assemble casserole: In a 4-quart casserole, layer the
eggplant, meat sauce and white sauce twice.
7. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour.
Eggplant: In today's global market, eggplant is available
year-round. There is no need to peel an eggplant before
cooking. One type of eggplant may not necessarily be
substituted for another as they do vary in flavor. Look for the
larger pear shaped purple eggplant for this dish.
Makes 4 servings