Cooks Exchange

This stuffed eggplant is one of the Coast’s memorable dishes, and now you can make it at home

Eggpant Lamberto is stuffed with Italian bread seasoning, shrimp and topped with mushrooms and a white Mornay sauce.
Eggpant Lamberto is stuffed with Italian bread seasoning, shrimp and topped with mushrooms and a white Mornay sauce.

Rupert Leslie can dine on his favorite stuffed eggplant entrée.

Two weeks ago, Leslie asked for help in finding the seafood eggplant from the now-closed Marguerites Italian Village in Pascagoula.

“Back in the ‘80s, I stumbled into this restaurant on a beach road trip to New Orleans and ordered their seafood stuffed eggplant, and to this day it sits heavy in my memory. Simply the best eggplant I ever ate,” said Leslie. “If you can offer any help with this quest for Margarites Stuffed Eggplant, I would be forever in your debt.”

Bill and Katherine Hunt, who have passed away, owned Marguerites with their daughter, Liz O’Cain, who shares the seafood eggplant recipe today. She gave me the stuffed eggplant and the white Mornay sauce recipe for a family-size meal and the recipe for a restaurant kitchen amount.

“My neighbor brought the article over about someone wanting the recipe for the baked stuffed eggplant we used to serve,” said O’Cain. “If anyone would like any of our recipes, please let me know. I will be more than happy to share any of them.”

O’Cain sent not only the recipes, but also a picture of the dish.

“It is not good quality due to Hurricane Katrina,“ said O’Cain. “We call those marks on the picture ‘character marks.’ Lol.”

Leslie, start your oven. Here is how to make the memorable seafood stuffed eggplant.

Eggplant Lamberto is eggplant stuffed with Gulf shrimp and Italian bread dressing, seasonings and topped with mushrooms and Mornay sauce. Sounds yummy, right? The Mornay sauce is made with milk, thickened with butter and flour in which grated Romano cheese is added for a delicate flavor, O’Cain said

EGGPLANT LAMBERTO

4 eggplants, firm (3/4 to 1 pound each)

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups onions, finely chopped

2 tablespoons green onions, finely chopped

1/2 cup green peppers, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups celery, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon salt

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 teaspoon basil

3/4 teaspoon oregano

1 1/8 teaspoons Accent

3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

3/4 pound extra small shrimp, peeled

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

4 – 6 cups herb stuffing, Pepperidge Farm brand preferred

1 cup Italian bread crumbs

6 cups White Mornay Sauce, approximately 3/4 cup per serving

Cut eggplants in half lengthwise and place in a large pan. Cover with salted water and soak overnight.

Drain salted water from eggplants. Return to pan and cover with water. Parboil for about 10 minutes or until tender. Drain water and allow eggplants to cool. Remove pulp from the skins, leaving a thin layer of pulp, enough to support the skins. Save eggplant skins for presentation.

Chop pulp and set aside. Add oil to a large saucepan. Sauté onions, green onions, green peppers, celery and fresh garlic in oil until tender. Stir in salt, black pepper, basil, oregano, Accent and granulated garlic. Carefully fold in eggplant and shrimp. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently. Continue cooking until the shrimp turns pink. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley and mushrooms. Gradually add herb stuffing, mixing gently until mixture reaches desired consistency. The mixture should be moderately thick.

Using about 1 cup each, fill the eggplant skins with mixture. If desired, garnish with a few mushrooms, gently pressing them into the stuffing to secure. Sprinkle with Italian breadcrumbs. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Top with Mornay sauce and serve.

Makes 8 servings

NOTES: Can be baked as a casserole or in the skins. This recipe freezes well. Wrap each eggplant individually with freezer wrap and place in a zip top freezer storage bag. Allow to thaw before baking.

– Submitted by Liz O’Cain

FAMILY-SIZE WHITE MORNAY SAUCE

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

6 cups milk

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/3 cup Romano or Parmesan cheese, finely grated

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Add flour and stir until creamy. Stir in milk, salt, white pepper and Romano cheese. Cook until sauce thickens, stirring frequently. After the sauce thickens, add lemon juice and stir well. Makes approximately 6 cups.

– Submitted by Liz O’Cain

RESTAURANT-SIZE EGGPLANT LAMBERTO

14 (1-1 1/2 pound each) firm eggplants cut lengthwise. Soak in saltwater the night before cooking.

Par boil (approximately 10-15 minutes). Scoop pulp out of eggplant skins. Save skins for presentation.

3 pounds onions (clean weight)

1 bunch green onions (clean)

13 ounces green peppers (clean)

24 ounces celery (clean)

4 pods garlic

Chop all the above together, except eggplant. Sauté in 1 1/2 cups of oil.

4 tablespoons chopped parsley (does not go in until last)

Add:

Chopped eggplant pulp

3 pounds shrimp (cook until shrimp is red)

Add seasonings:

2 ounces salt

1 tablespoon black pepper

2 tablespoons each: basil and oregano

1 1/2 tablespoons Accent

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

Add approximately 3 bags Pepperidge Herb Stuffing (more or less as needed)

Fill shells and sprinkle Italian breadcrumbs over top. Add a few mushrooms. Serve with a few tablespoons of the White Mornay Sauce.

RESTAURANT-SIZE WHITE MORNAY SAUCE

1/2 pound of oleo

1/2 pound of unsalted butter

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 1/2 gallons milk

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon white pepper

1/2 cup of Romano cheese

1/4 cup lemon juice (after thickening)

In heavy sauce pot, melt oleo and unsalted butter. Add flour, stir until creamy. Add milk, white pepper, salt and Romano cheese. After the sauce thickens, add lemon juice. Stir.

Andrea Yeager can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net and Cooks Exchange, 205 DeBuys Road, Gulfport, MS 39507
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