Papeton d’Aubergines

Eggplant Mousse

This recipe was created in the fourteenth century by the French papal chef in Avignon. It was his response to the Italian pope's criticism of French cuisine. It is a delicate, unique way to serve eggplant—light and delicious. Be sure to select eggplants that are firm, shiny, and smooth.

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggplants, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
  • about 3 tablespoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 3 onions, minced 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1⅓ cups minced parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan or Swiss cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil or parsley
  • Coulis—optional *

Method

Put the chopped eggplant in a colander or large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of salt. Let stand for 30 minutes to draw out the bitter juice. Rinse well under cold water and squeeze out as much moisture as possible with your hands.

* This sauce is sometimes served with the dish, but I think the delicate papeton is overwhelmed by it.

† Instead of using the Mouli food mill, you can use a blender, set at high speed, to purée the eggplant, along with the eggs, garlic, onions, parsley, nutmeg, thyme, salt and pepper.

Heat the oils in a large frying pan. When they begin to smoke, add the onions and eggplant and lower the flame. Cook slowly, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until the eggplant is translucent and tender. Pass it through a Mouli food mill into a large bowl and discard the seeds. The purée will be smooth and thick.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Oil a soufflé dish.

Stir the eggs, parsley, and garlic into the eggplant purée. Add the nutmeg, thyme, and salt (about 2 tablespoons) and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture into the oiled soufflé dish and set it in a pan of hot water inches deep. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for 5 minutes more. Garnish with basil or parsley and serve.

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