Thursday, January 11, 2007

Eggplant Ricotta Timbales With Faux-Fresh Tomato Sauce

This recipe is an adaptation of one I used to make for a local restaurant many years ago. It involves a bit of preparation but is worth every minute of time you will spend. A company pleaser for sure, it's vegetarian to boot. Add a simple salad and you're done.

Eggplant Ricotta Timbales
Loosely adapted from the Larrupin' Cafe
2 large globe eggplants
Olive oil for brushing
15 ounces part skim ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons seasoned, toasted bread crumbs (I use Brio croutons and buzz them in my food processor)
1 heaping teaspoon dried basil
2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
1/3 cup parmesan, grated
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, left whole (walnuts may be substituted)
8 sun-dried tomatoes that have been packed in olive oil, minced
1 large egg, slightly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Slices of mozarella or provolone (optional)

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees.
Cut the stem end from each eggplant and slice each down the middle lengthwise.
Laying each half cut side down, cut into thin slices lengthwise.
Brush both sides of each slice with olive oil and place on the prepared sheets.
Roast in the oven on two racks, switching racks halfway through the roasting time, until the slices are completely softened but not cooked dry. About 10 minutes in a very hot oven. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Lower oven temperature to 375.
Mix the ricotta, breadcrumbs, basil, garlic, parmesan, pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes together and blend well. Season to taste with the salt and pepper then add the beaten egg and mix to combine.
Using a paper towel, oil 6 6-ounce souffle cups.
Beginning with one strip of eggplant, lay eggplant slices, one next to the other, in each cup, one end in the bottom of the cup with the rest of the strip laying over the edge and draping on the outside. See photo for example.

Fill each cup 2/3 full with the ricotta mixture then, going around the cup, bring the eggplant strips up and over the top of the mixture, cutting the ends on a diagonal to fit.
Place cups in a roasting pan, pour hot water into pan to reach halfway up the sides of the cups and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove the timbales from the water bath and allow to cool.

To serve, tip a timbale out of its cup onto a warmed plate.
In the oven, melt a slice of mozarella cheese over each timbale.
Spoon the warm tomato sauce (see recipe below) around the timbale and serve immediately.

Faux Fresh Tomato Sauce
Christine's original recipe
1 large can whole fire-roasted tomatoes, such as Muir Glen organic
8 slow-roasted tomatoes a la Kalyn, diced to make about 1/2 cup
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 tablespoons sweet Vermouth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until well blended. The sauce should be thick. Adjust seasonings to taste then heat gently in a saucepan.

Cook's Notes:
This is a photography note actually. Lately I've been taking my photos at night with the resulting yellow-tinged effect that I dislike intensely. I apologize for this and want you to know that I'm trying to find a permanent home for the great Photo Studio in a Box that I got for Christmas so I can start using it regularly. At the moment I can't leave it out because the cats, being the curious creatures they are, eye it longingly. Taking the studio out of the box, taking a photo, then putting the studio back into the box not only makes for cold food, it's not my idea of fun. I must figure this out.


  1. I've been having the same nighttime photo problems, however I was just getting on here to say how much I love that photo. The color and lighting I think gives it a nice warmth.h

  2. Wow! You really captured my attention with that one, Christine.

    About your photos, I agree with Kristen. I have to take mine at night, because it's usually the only time I have to cook and shoot. So I've convinced myself the yellowish tone is my personal style. Anyway, this looks great.

    I'm intrigued: You used to make these for a local restaurant?

  3. Kristen,
    Thanks for visiting. I guess this particular photo came out better than I thought it would. Thanks for you kind comments.

    Yes, I did a brief stint as the soups and appetizers chef at a local restaurant some years ago. It was a personal disaster that lasted an interminable 6 months before I went sobbing, gratefully, back to my cozy, warm and loving home kitchen. That is not to cast aspersions on the restaurant itself, but points more to my own character flaws.

  4. really gorgeous eggplant recipe! I think making eggplant elegant is a challenge you've certainly accomplished here!

  5. I think the photos look wonderful. My goodness, that is some timbale there!!! Each post you do is amazing!

  6. I really like the looks and sounds of this!


  7. Catherine, Sher and Paz,
    Thanks so much! It's you wonderful cooks who inspire me to greater heights.

  8. You make everything look so tempting Christine

  9. Another comment on your photography: Maybe daylight is best for such things as white cakes. But for these hearty dishes, I think evening imparts a lovely Renaissance glow.

  10. I like your fotos because they are real. On many food blogs I saw very beautiful photos which have been processed by professional designers in fotoshop or in another programme. This pictures are grate but they are unreal, like art fantasy.

  11. I love timbales! I need to get more familiar with eggplant - normally I've only had in in escalivada - a Spanish staple garnish.
    They look so elegant!

  12. That really looks great! I love all the step-pictures along the way too.

  13. Hi Christine,

    The pictures are a delight to near Bostonin freezing cold weather!

    We have a picture book farm on route
    16 that sometimes I drive by a few times to get the hay and fresh farm parfumes! Mass, was once an agricultural
    state with many farms, including my grandparents fromConcord ma!

    Can't wait to put together a few of your recipes!

    Thank you!


Thank you for stopping by! I will do my best to respond to your comments and questions so feel free to write to me here. Sorry for the comment moderation but it helps to keep the spammers at bay.