3 eggplants, about 1 1/2 pounds each
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups Italian bread crumbs (see link)
4 eggs, separated
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese


1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the stem ends off all the eggplants, then cut in half lengthwise and score the flesh with a sharp knife, making sure you don't cut through the skin. Rub the cut surfaces of the eggplants well with salt. Set the eggplant halves aside on paper towels, cut-side-down, and let them drain for 20 minutes.
2. Line the bottoms of 2 (18 x 13-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Dry the cut surfaces of the eggplant halves and brush the parchment paper and eggplant with the olive oil. Place then on the baking sheets, cut-side-down, and bake in the preheated oven for 45-55 minutes. The eggplants are completely cooked when they dent easily as you poke the skin. Do not cook them more than 1 hour as they burn easily once they are cooked. Remove them from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes or longer.
3. Using a large spoon, scoop the flesh from the cooked eggplant halves. Discard the skin and place the flesh in a colander with a bowl underneath to catch the juices. Drain for 40 minutes, stirring once. You should have at least 1 cup of juices - if you don't, try putting a plate on the eggplant with weights on top to help squeeze the juices out. Reserve the juices for the Lamb Meatballs with Girgento Sauce, if desired (see link).
4. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Grease 8 small custard cups and use 1/2 cup bread crumbs to coat them. Set aside.
5. Mix the egg yolks, the Romano cheese and 1 cup of the bread crumbs with the roasted eggplant flesh. Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then fold them gently into the eggplant mixture. Spoon the mixture evenly into the prepared custard cups and set the cups on a baking sheet. Bake the eggplant timbales in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffed and beginning to brown on top. Remove from the oven and immediately take the timbales out of the custard cups. They may be served immediately or cooled, wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for 1 to 2 days. To reheat, cover each timbale with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven for 20 minutes.

Nick Stellino created these little souffles as a side dish for his Lamb Meatballs with Girgento Sauce, but they could also be served as a side dish to leg of lamb or a pork roast. If you are not making the meatballs, don't worry about saving the eggplant juices in Step 3.

Eggplant Timbales
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