Posted on 06 December 2011 by

Tomato-Eggplant Timbale

By David Harbilas

A timbale is a custard-like dish usually served as an appetizer or small lunch entrée.

The word timbale itself refers to the shape of the mold, which is nothing more than a small dish–I use a pyrex dish, as it is oven safe and comes in many sizes.

While this dish may sound unappealing–the word custard unfortunately brings many bad attempts at pudding to mind–it is a wonderful mixture of savory and sweet, essentially a very rich sauce baked with an egg and cream mixture into a light, omelet-like creation.

The dish can, in fact, be made simply as a mixture of a thick sauce with the custard, but here I opt to blend the ingredients to make a smoother and more elegant appetizer.

Makes about 4 timabales

  • 1 tomato
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil for cooking

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Cut the stem end out of the tomato and place in a small roasting pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and cover with foil. Roast for about 1 ½ hours, or until very soft and the juices have run into the pan. Meanwhile, cut the egg plant in half lengthwise and rub with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the eggplant cut side down on a sheet pan.

Cut the garlic in half cross-wise and drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on the pan with the eggplant, cut side up. Roast the vegetables until tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool all the vegetables. Scoop the flesh out of the eggplant and place in a blender. Squeeze the garlic cloves from their skin and place in the blender with the eggplant.

Add the tomato and their roasting juices. Blend all the vegetables until very smooth, about 1-2 minutes, then pass the puree through a fine mesh strainer into a saucepan. Cook the puree over medium heat until very thick, about 30-45 minutes, taking care to make sure it doesn’t burn. Cool the thickened sauce in a refrigerator until cool, at least 2 hours. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with the egg yolk and heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper and add the vegetable puree. Whisk until fully incorporated.

Pour the mixture into four small pyrex dishes about ¾ full. Place the dishes into a roasting pan and place the pan into the oven (still at 350 degrees). Pour hot water into the roasting pan to come at least halfway up the sides of the pyrex dishes. Bake the custards about 20-30 minutes, or until the centers are set. Remove and cool slightly before inverting and unmolding onto serving plates.

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