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. Christina Blue

    This looks so awesome! I’ve been spending the better part of the afternoon looking through your blog for the first time and was delighted to find a new recipe had been posted within the time I’ve been here. It looks SO yummy! I feel the same way you do about eggplant: When it’s good, it’s to die for. When it’s bad…a little part of me dies. Mainly my taste buds. There’s only a few ways I know how to cook an eggplant without it turning ugly, and I can’t wait to try this out! Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. Katy

    Eggplant cream! It’s such a great idea, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it first! ;)
    I can’t wait to try this. It looks nice and creamy. I think I might try it in lasagna.

    Lasagna! What a perfect use for the eggplant creme. You’re a genius!

  3. Shona

    Wow…I wish I had the time to make this! A little too fancy just for me, I’ll definitely reserve the recipe for a dinner party.

    I have a bunch of eggplant that will go bad soon if I don’t use it and the only eggplant dish I’ve ever made is eggplant parmesan. And I’m really not sure if I’ve ever gotten it completely right. Any suggestions on really tasty, relatively easy ways to cook eggplant? Everything you post here looks so completely delish! Thanks :)

    Usually a bunch of olive oil helps things along. I like to slice the eggplant into discs, salt them and let paper towels absorb the moisture that is released. Then COVER in oil and bake in a 350º oven for 30-40 minutes, until soft and brown. If any part of the eggplant starts looking dry/white, it needs more oil. Not so healthy, but definitely tasty!

  4. J K

    Hello! I think this looks delicious, but the eggplant creme is really just a baba ghanoush with cashews subbed in for sesame. An inspired sub, but maybe you could fix the name problem by calling it cashew ghanoush or something? Or Italian Baba. Some play on the name. Just a thought.

  5. Miranda

    I’m definitely going to have to try this! I have eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes already in my garden. Woohoo! Just need to get some mushrooms. Looks yummy!

  6. rachel

    These look beautiful! Much better than the eggplant napoleons I’ve had in the past!

    I totally relate to how you come up with recipes, I do the exact same thing! Last week it was pineapple, pineapple, pineapple.

  7. Janet

    baba ghanoush is a middle eastern dish made with the stronger additions of tahini and lemon- this dish has more delicate and suttle flavours than baba ghanoush…(if I might say so myself)

  8. Maria

    Oh my goodness! This looks so delicious. I would love to have these at a party. I’m one of those strange people that love eggplant. If you are still looking for a name, perhaps you could call it Eggplant Crema. Crema is cream in Spanish. That would make it tapa-rrific. Sorry for the pun. I do that sometimes.

  9. Mike

    OH WOW! Perfection! Those look so deliciously yummy!!

    Maybe just “Pureed Eggplant” would work. However, I don’t find “Eggplant Mousse” to sound gross, while I find “Eggplant Creme” to sound disgusting. Odd how that works.

    Great post, Great dish, Great photos!

    Hah! I can’t win! :)

  10. jessy

    what tiny little yummies of delicious gloriousness you’ve created! WOW! i’m going to have to make these for our next dinner with friends! they look stunning! mmmmmmmmmmmm!

  11. Chris T

    Wow, those look amazing. I have a question though is there something else that would work in place of the cashews? I have colitis and I can’t eat nuts. I am not vegan (yet). Any ideas?

    I love your blog by the way!

    Something rich and creamy would be good. Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese might be a good choice

  12. Ruisu

    Im just DELIGHTED by all the recipes in this blog, you should try some time peruvian food, I’ve heard its DELICIOUS. =]

  13. Mags

    Maybe try using the european ‘aubergine’ or the asian ‘brinjal’ to solve the naming of it – I was always confused when reading Americans writing about ‘eggplants’!

    So ‘aubergine cream’ or ‘brinjal mousse’?

  14. Artie

    How about whipped eggplant?

    I’ve never been much of an eggplant fan, but a friend of mine made a roasted version of eggplant parm one time that was actually not bad. It involved roasting tomatoes and eggplant, and I think, portobello mushrooms (it’s been about 5 years since I had this, so I can’t remember exactly) in a vinaigrette. Then she layered it with fresh basil, and buffalo mozzarella…not vegan, of course, but I bet someone with creativity could come up with a nice tangy substitute.

  15. Erin

    Girl, I don’t know HOW you do it, but your dishes (all of them) are truly beautiful. You are so incredibly talented!
    ~Erin @ “Vegan & the City”

  16. Paula

    I love that you are playing with eggplant. I too find it disgusting when its badly cooked, and divine when its just right. I’m always wary of cooking it myself, so I appreciate the primer!


  17. Ani Holdsworth

    Brilliant! Drop-dead magnificent. I returned to your blog for inspiration after my own pathetic attempts at veganism (baby steps). Your latest post is a sight for sore eyes. Very, very creative (as is all your work, but this one seems especially yummy). Eggplant (aubergine, here) is so underutilized. It is one of the best vegetables to use to give food a meaty taste. Thanks for the tip on how to keep it from absorbing too much oil.

    I also read your soymilk disaster post. Lots of good tips from readers. Lucky soymilk is cheap here in the UK, organic even, and totally unsweetened and un-additived… (It’s the ONLY cheap thing around here.)

    Could you (anyone) suggest a great vegan creamer recipe to use in tea or coffee? (You can post it on my blog). NO VANILLA, please. I don’t hate vanilla, I just don’t want it to dominate my tea/coffee. I’ve already tried tofu; and almonds… Neither tasted right, and both included vanilla. Coffee creamer is one of my biggest substitution challenges.

    Thanks again and all the best! You are so generous to share your work with the world.

  18. canadian_sadie

    Wow. I’ve never purchased an eggplant in my life. But now I am so tempted that I’m going to give it a whirl. These look incredible.

    I’m an omnivore, but my best friend is herbivorous–so I’m always coming here to find wonderful things to feed her. And I’m NEVER disappointed. Thanks for your wonderful blog!

  19. nana

    oooh, it’s beautiful and wonderful and..
    i’ve found ur blog last week and i like it very much!
    a hungarian vegetarian blogger

  20. Amanda

    I know I can’t be the only one who has seriously woken up several times in the past few days to thoughts of these stacks since I first came across them in this blog. My goodness, they look sooooo good. Thanks for the recipe and the gorgeous photos!

  21. Katy

    Those look amazing! I haven’t had really good eggplant yet, but sounds like I could even make it! My boyfriend hates mushrooms and isn’t crazy about tomatoes. I will have to finagle this one if I get around to it.

Post a comment

You may use the following HTML:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>