The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas


February 22, 2014

COOKING WITH SIMON: Feeding the steak eaters and the vegetarians

Texans are known as meat eaters and enjoy they’re big juicy steaks. But sometimes it’s nice to eat a meal that is just vegetables and follow the new Meatless Monday trend. Chefs always need to have some good vegetarian dishes in they’re repertoire because vegetarians and vegans don’t want to just eat salads and pasta.

They should have fun and delicious food too, but when I dine with my vegetarian friends the dishes delivered to them at the table seem to have the fun factor of cardboard.

Last night I had some guests – a large group of steak eaters who also had some vegetarian colleagues – who all wanted a great meal. The steak part was easy but I wanted to do something creative and satisfying for the vegetarians. I went to the local market to see what vegetables looked inspiring.

I found some great looking aubergines – or eggplants, as they are known in America – and I got an idea.

Creativity sometimes comes from the most unlikely places. So here’s a dish that will please vegetarians and perhaps a few meat eaters, too!

Butternut Squash & Beans Eggplant Sandwich with Creamy Mushroom Sauce


1 large globe eggplant

2 eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon milk

1 cup soft bread crumbs

1/2 butternut squash, 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 cup chickpeas, cooked

1/2 cup butter beans, cooked

1/4 cup sliced green onions

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon roasted pinenuts

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 slices mozzarella cheese  

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 cup cream

1/4 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add butternut squash and cook until soft. Drain, mash and add the chickpeas, butter beans, green onions, salt and pepper. Heat a skillet with two tablespoons of oil over high heat. Set two saucer-sized plates on the counter and on one add the egg mixture and another the breadcrumbs. Dip eggplant slices into the egg mixture and then the bread and immediately add to the hot pan. Brown on each side. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place three of the eggplant slice on a baking pan. Add a spoonful of butternut squash mixture, a slice of mozzarella and top with the remaining eggplant slice.

Place in the oven and cook through until cheese is melted and the sandwich is warm.

To make the sauce, sauté mushrooms over medium heat until soft, add cream, reduce by half until thickened. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Spoon sauce in the bottom of three plates and place a sandwich on each plate. Eat with a knife and fork. Makes three sandwiches.


Simon Webster is the Executive Chef of Sabor a Pasion Country House & Bistro a multi-faceted dining destination just outside Palestine.

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