Posted by: njbrown | February 21, 2011

Julia Child’s Aubergine (Eggplant) Persillade


Julia Child’s Aubergine (Eggplant) Persillade

Looking for Julia’s Indian pudding recipe took me back to Julia Child & Company.  I was struck again with how well she wrote, her joie de vivre, and her vast store of information.  Next to Julia Child & Company on the shelf was Julia Child & More Company, and as I looked through it, I found her vegetarian dinner menu that featured Aubergine Persillade.  When I was given these books so many years ago, I found them less appealing than her first three volumes.  The menu format gave recipes for a number of dishes I wasn’t interested in making, and so the books languished on the shelves for decades.  The idea of having to make a vegetarian meal was beyond imagination in those wonderful years of butter, heavy cream, cheeses and all kinds of meat.  Times have changed, and many of the Company recipes now seem quite dated, but aubergine persillade with its combination of spaghetti squash and eggplant sounded good.  The ingredients are few and the calories are low.

I had probably made spaghetti squash twice before in my life, and Julia’s recipe called for steaming it which seemed an unnecessarily lengthy process.  The directions attached to my squash were vague and combined microwave instructions with baking instructions, but I had a vague recollection of having microwaved the squash before.  A quick trip to the kitchen computer gave me the microwave instructions, and twelve minutes cooked the three-pound squash perfectly.

My picture – and the picture in Julia Child & More Company – show the eggplant mixture on top of the squash, but Julia’s instructions tell you to mix the squash, eggplant and Parmesan (if desired) together before serving.  We found the dish really enjoyable.  The squash is pleasantly crisp and contrasts nicely with the silky texture of the eggplant.  A comment on the Web suggested the addition of a little lemon juice, and I think when I make it again I will do that for a bit of “brightness.”

Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (or more if needed)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced (or to taste) or equivalent amount of prepared minced garlic
  • 5 -6 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ½-1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Lemon juice to taste (optional)

Directions

  1. Cut squash in half. With a sharp knife, pierce each squash half in at least 6 places, making sure these remain open (this is important or squash may explode in oven) Place squash halves in a glass baking dish with ¼” water.
  2. Microwave on high 10 to 14 minutes, rotating and turning squash 3 times during cooking, until squash gives slightly when pressed.
  3. Peel eggplant and cut into half-inch dice.  (Hint:  Julia suggests using a vegetable peeler – something I’d never done before when making eggplant slices.  Using the peeler may be incredibly obvious, but it hadn’t been to me.  The eggplant can be peeled this way in a few seconds.)
  4. (If you wish, salt cubes with ½ tsp salt, let drain for 20 minutes, then dry in a towel–optional).
  5. Film large (preferably non-stick) skillet with the olive oil.
  6. Sauté eggplant cubes over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, until  tender.
  7. Add minced garlic and toss for a couple of minutes.
  8. Add parsley only at the last-minute and toss before serving.
  9. Fine alone (hot or cold) as a side dish, or serve over prepared  spaghetti squash.
  10. May toss with optional Parmesan cheese.
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