Miniature Napoleons with Eggplant Creme

Miniature Napoleons with Eggplant Creme

When I lay awake at night, trying to sleep, I try to create recipes in my head. I usually start with a single ingredient and turn it over and over in my mind until something clicks into place. A few days ago I was doing just this, contemplating two eggplants in my fridge. I was thinking about how difficult eggplants can be, and if I could create a recipe that would counteract some of the challenges they present.

Undercooked eggplants usually have a green taste and a tough texture that makes me sad. My favorite way of preparing them involves half a bottle of olive oil, a lot of salt, and a good stint in the oven, but that’s not always practical. When eggplant is good, it’s so damn good, and when it’s not, I personally find it gross. One of my memories from college is my geology professor turning to me and remarking that you can judge the quality of a restaurant by the quality of its eggplant dishes. (Yes, I managed to talk food even with a geology professor.) Whether or not that’s true, it does speak to what might be an essential truth:

Eggplant can be a real pain in the asparagus sometimes!

While laying in bed, it hit me. Eggplant mousse! Now, you’ll notice I’m not calling it “mousse” in the recipe. After talking about the idea with several friends and seeing them wince and make faces at the term “eggplant mousse”, I decided that it wasn’t testing well and I’d have to change the name for the blog. I don’t think eggplant creme is much better, to tell you the truth. Just imagine eggplant, cubed and stir-fried until soft and golden, the blended with cashews and herbs until a rich, creamy, yet light spread forms. It’s tasty! A lot tastier than “eggplant mousse” makes it sound.  Trust me?

I was also feeling the need to make something on the approachable side of fancy, and appetizers always fulfill that role for me.  Also, tiny food.  My ever-present obsession with teeny, tiny, itsy-bitsy food.  How tiny?  This tiny:

Miniature Napoleons with Eggplant Creme

Like, really tiny.

I decided to have the size of the napoleons be determined by the size of the cremini mushroom (baby portobello) caps I was using.  Plum tomatoes and an average-sized zucchini baked down to about the same diameter as the mushrooms, just as I had hoped.  You can easily make these on a larger scale with full-sized portobello mushrooms, but the tinyness of the napoleons is a real draw for me.

If you roast up more veggies than you need, you’ll have an easier time matching diameters, and you’ll have leftovers for a really tasty grilled veggie sandwich the next day.  Did I mention the eggplant stuff makes a great sandwich spread?  I’m also thinking about using it as the filling for ravioli.  But I digress.  To the recipe!

Miniature Napoleons with Eggplant Creme
Makes 12 Miniature Napoleons, with leftover creme

Roasted Vegetables
3-4 Plum Tomatoes, sliced thickly (at least 12 slices, between 1/4″ and 1/2″)
1 Zucchini, sliced thickly (at least 12 slices)
12 Cremini Mushroom Caps, de-stemmed and brushed clean
Tamari or Soy Sauce
Dried Italian Herbs (your choice!)
Spray Oil

Eggplant Creme
2 Eggplants
2/3 Cup Raw, Unsalted Cashews
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Dried Italian Herbs (your choice)
2ish Tbs Oil
Garlic, to taste, if desired

Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar

A piping bag, like the type used for cake decorating, or a plastic bag

Prepping VeggiesPreheat the oven to 300º F.

Slice the tomatoes and zucchini and place them on baking sheet; I used a baking mat, similar to a silpat, but foil or parchment will work.

Spray with oil to coat (or brush if you don’t have the spray stuff). Sprinkle with salt and pepper and herbs. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the veggies look dehydrated and smaller, like so:

Roasted Plum Tomatoes and Zucchini

Place the mushrooms on the same baking sheet, upside-down. Fill the centers with a little tamari, no more than 1/2 or 1 tsp (I eyeballed it). They’ll look like this:

Tamari Creminis

Spray them thoroughly with spray-oil and bake for 30 minutes, or until tender, at 300º F. Remove and let cool with the over veggies.

While the vegetables are baking, cut the ends off the eggplants and remove the skin. Cube the eggplants and place them on a large dish on top of three paper towels. (You’ll probably need to do this in batches). Microwave the eggplant on high for about 8 minutes, until the eggplant is soft and the paper towels have absorbed a lot of the moisture. This is a tip I picked up from Cook’s Illustrated that will prevent the eggplant from absorbing so much oil while cooking.

Heat a seasoned wok or a non-stick pan with 2 tbs of olive oil. Add the eggplant and saute for 5-10 minutes over medium-high heat, until very soft and browned. Add the eggplant to the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the salt, cashews, herbs and garlic (if using) and process for several minutes until VERY smooth. Season to taste, if needed, then place the eggplant creme in a piping bag or a plastic baggie with one of the corners cut off.

Start with a little dot of eggplant creme on the plate where you want the napoleon to be. This will act as an anchor, or the tastiest glue in the world:

Assembling the napoleons, anchor

Place a tomato on top of the anchor, and pipe more eggplant creme on the top. Not too much!

Assembling the napoleons

Add a slice of zucchini, then another layer of eggplant cream. Top with an upside-down mushroom cap, and place a dab of eggplant creme where the stem was:

Assembling the napoleons

For garnish, add a small piece of roasted tomato and a basil-leaf crown. Put a thin layer of olive oil in the bottom of the dish, surrounding the napoleons. Dribble balsamic vinegar into the oil, and you’ll get pretty little contrasting dots. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tapas party, anyone?

Miniature Napoleons with Eggplant Creme


  1. BostonVegan

    One thing is for sure, I am not cook. But, I made these for a vegan potluck dinner last night and everyone loved them. I was quite proud, if I do say so myself. I highly recommend that anyone give this recipe a try.. it is unbelievably delicious.

  2. Allison

    those napoleons look quite tasty and seem like the perfect way to make use of all the gorgeous summer produce that’s around this time of year.

    i also have a couple suggestions for names for the eggplant creme. i do like the babghanoush idea. plus, the diminutive size of these napoleons made me think of appetizer pastes, so i was thinking you could call the creme either an eggplant pesto or eggplant tapenade?

    good luck with your cooking adventures.

  3. kel

    eggplant creme ..sounds a little 80′s. aubergine mousse works much better for me. these look delicious. and i agree eggplant, is either/or, either its cooked till there’s no structure left or you give it a miss!

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  5. Nicole

    Looks delicious- if you don’t have cashews on hand would pistachios work? I’m trying it in any case! Wish me luck….

  6. Carola Clavo

    I came across this blog searching for something in the internet and bookmarked this great recipe! I made it today and it was just wonderful! Nice looking, delicate taste, superb presence. I’m not vegan but I will make this one again for sure :-)

    Thank you, regards from Spain!!

  7. Jen

    I share your sentiments about eggplant, and have had a few episodes of the not so pleasant in texture kind. Your recipe reads something amazing and the photos rock! I love mini-eats and will definitely try this recipe. Fantastic :-)

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  9. Sarah

    I made these for a dinner party and they were a huge hit! Absolutely delicious – rich and savory, but healthy too!

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  11. Chris

    The eggplant cream is soo delicious. Slightly sweet and creamy rich. Although it did elicit some “ews” from my non-vegan family when I told them what it was. I modified this recipe slightly and used it as a filling for some amazing paninis using the focaccia recipe from this site. I basically just didn’t bake the veggies as long, and added red bell peppers and spinach. I love this blog!

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  13. Ariane

    When is that book coming out? I live in Switzerland, would it be available to order? I would buy it in glimpse!!! I insist, when is that book coming out? If it is out, please notify me, or, whatever I´ll be coming back to this blog your cooking is Amazing!

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  16. Tara testaverde

    I made these last night . They were delicious i also took photos because they looked so pretty ! i also used the veggie brooth recipe to use in my lentils

  17. Vegangela

    Made these tonight and they were amazing! We live in Sydney Australia and it is too hot to use the oven right now so we grilled the veggies on the BBQ. I served these on a bed of lemon-scented couscous. SO GOOD! This tasted like something you’d get in a high-end vegan restaurant in NYC or something. Very fresh/healthy but creamy and rich. That cashew cream is ridiculously good! Using it as a ravioli-stuffing would be amazing!!! I was literally licking it off my spatula. I’ve been vegan for 15 years and this is easily the best recipe I’ve ever made. Thank you!

  18. Patti

    I tried these last weekend – had a mixed gathering – some vegans and some meat lovers. I made these for the vegans using the large portabellos. They were fantastic!!!! The meat eaters were fighting over the ones that were left!! :o)

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  20. Karyn

    These are unbelievably good. So good that I am now getting requests for them! The eggplant creme is fantastic but I recommend making it a day or two in advance if you have the time – the flavours get even better. Another post mentioned that it would make a good ravioli filling, I think I will have to give that a try with the next round of leftovers :-)

  21. Karyn

    Today I used some leftover eggplant creme as a pasta sauce and it was excellent – a bit pesto-like. I let the creme come to room temperature, cooked the pasta and then added it, a little olive oil and the drained pasta back to the pan over low heat. Stir to combine for a minute or so and you are good to go.

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