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A Spanish Eggplant Recipe from the Ole King Cole Restaurant — “Home Cooking With Kat & Friends”

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  • Kat Robinson
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Arkansas’s restaurants have long reflected the changes in our culinary favorings. Many of the dishes that we enjoy at home have been adapted to fit on menus, not just for plate lunch specials but also as menu selections long adored.

The Ole King Cole Restaurant was a staple at the corner of 5th and Broadway for decides. Opened in the 1920s, it stood as Arkansas’s oldest drive-in restaurant until its close in the 1970s. It was known for steaks, fish and desserts.

This recipe was adapted from a recipe recorded in the Primrose United Methodist Church cookbook in the 1970s, a submission by Mrs. A. J. Godfrey. I am thrilled to be able to share it with you. It has quickly become a family favorite.

Ole King Cole Spanish Eggplant

  • ½ stick (4 Tablespoons) butter
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 1 can diced tomatoes or 2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 Globe eggplant (about 2 pounds) or equivalent (2 Chinese eggplant or 5-6 Indian eggplant), peeled and diced
  • 2 slices bread, toasted and crumbled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup grated cheese (Cheddar, Colby, Monterrey Jack, or similar)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    In a skillet over medium heat, sauté onion in butter. Add tomatoes, salt and sugar and simmer until thick. Remove from heat.

    Boil eggplant until tender. Drain.

    Beat eggs. Fold into tomato sauce along with eggplant and breadcrumbs. Turn into baking dish and cover with cheese. Bake 30-40 minutes. Serves six.

    About the Author

    Kat Robinson is Arkansas’s food historian and most enthusiastic road warrior. The Little Rock-based travel writer is the host of the Emmy-nominaged documentary"Make Room For Pie; A Delicious Slice of The Natural State" and a committee member for the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame. The author of 101 Things To Eat in Arkansas Before You Die, 102 More Things to Eat in Arkansas Before You Die and Arkansas Food: The A to Z of Eating in The Natural State, Kat has also compiled the comprehensive travel guide for pie lovers, Another Slice of Arkansas Pie: A Guide to the Best Restaurants, Bakeries, Truck Stops and Food Trucks for Delectable Bites in The Natural State (2018). Her other books are Arkansas Pie: A Delicious Slice of the Natural State (2012), Classic Eateries of the Ozarks and Arkansas River Valley (2013), and Classic Eateries of the Arkansas Delta (2014). She is the Arkansas fellow and curator to the National Food and Beverage Foundation, a guest editor for the University of Arkansas publication Arkansauce: The Journal of Arkansas Foodways and the 2011 Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism Henry Award winner for Media Support.

    Her work has appeared in regional and national publications including Food Network, Forbes Travel Guide, Serious Eats, and AAA Magazines, among others. Her expertise in food research and Arkansas restaurants has been cited by Saveur, Eater, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, the Southern Foodways Alliance's Gravy podcast.

    While she writes on food and travel subjects throughout the United States, she is best known for her ever-expanding knowledge of Arkansas food history and restaurant culture, all of which she explores on her 1200+ article website, TieDyeTravels.com.

    Kat's journeys across Arkansas have earned her the title "road warrior," "traveling pie lady," and probably some minor epithets. Few have spent as much time exploring The Natural State, or researching its cuisine. "The Girl in the Hat" has been sighted in every one of Arkansas's 75 counties, oftentimes sliding behind a menu or peeking into a kitchen.

    Additionally, Kat's other forays includes running the budding new publishing house Tonti Press, which features the works of Arkansas authors. Her new podcast, Kat Robinson's Arkansas, is in production awaiting the reopening of culinary tourism and road trips in response to the COVID-19 pandemic situation. She speaks before audiences of all sizes on the subjects of Arkansas, food, travel and plenty of other subjects.

    Before jumping into the world of food and travel writing, Kat was a television producer at Little Rock CBS affiliate THV and Jonesboro ABC affiliate KAIT, as well as a radio producer and personality for KARN Newsradio.

    Kat lives with daughter Hunter and partner Grav Weldon in Little Rock.