Eggplant and cheese souffle

Restaurants rarely treat eggplant as much more than an occasional accompanying vegetable. The only place I have seen eggplant treated as a star is at Browns, the flashy Melbourne restaurant, where Greg Brown shows just how lovely eggplants can be.

His version is as simple as simple. Just cut the eggplant in half — either way — score it, salt it lightly, rinse to remove the salt, bake in a 200°C oven for about 15 minutes (for a medium-sized vegetable), remove, and cover with your version of pesto containing more than the usual amount of Parmesan. Then, just put it under the grill for about 3 minutes (that’s a restaurant grill — the home version might take longer, and is best completed in the oven), and that’s it.

It gets such a thick, rich flavour, you are sure as sure you are eating mushrooms.

This is very much an attribute of the eggplant. If you cook eggplant slowly, it takes on very much the flavour of the mushroom.

It’s a good idea to mix it with basil and cheese, whizz it until strong, add some vegetables, fold in some whipped egg whites, and make a souffle/pudding.

4 medium eggplants

a little lemon zest

100g cheddar cheese, cubed

20 basil leaves

1 egg yolk

1 chilli, chopped finely black pepper

5 egg whites — This number will give you a medium light souffle/pudding. If you add a few more, the end result will be much lighter, much fluffier.

2 teaspoons sugar

1 zucchini, sliced, and briefly cooked in a little olive oil until softened

1 red pepper, skinned and sliced in strips

Parmesan or cheddar for grating

tomatoes for sauce — Just cook down the tomatoes with a little chilli, herbs and salt until very soft. Whizz with a little first-grade olive oil.


Toss the eggplant into the microwave and cook on high for about 10 minutes, or until they take a knife like butter. Peel and toss the flesh and lemon zest into the whizzer.


Add the cheese, basil, egg yolk, chilli and black pepper, and whizz to a puree. It takes on a greenish hue, but never fear. That’s another sidelight to eggplant, especially with the added basil.


Whip the egg whites in a perfectly clean bowl, adding the sugar gradually, until light and fluffy and holding soft peaks.


Flop a quarter of the whites into the puree and fold through. Then add the rest, quarter by quarter, folding and maintaining a lightness.


Butter a baking dish. Lay half the mix along the bottom. Lay the zucchini and red pepper on top of the base, then put the rest on top.


Bake in a 200°C oven for 20 minutes and then remove. Grate some Parmesan or cheddar on top and return to the oven for a few minutes.


Serve from the dish, with a warm tomato sauce about the edges.

WINE: A very good fino sherry — Spanish or Australian.