Sunday, May 17, 2009

Stuffed Eggplant

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I’ve had my share of cooking disasters, and this one looked like it was headed that way. Before I left the house, I put brown rice and water in the rice cooker, clicked it to start and went on my merry way, expecting to use the results in a stuffing for baked eggplant. Three hours and many errands later, I came home to uncooked rice and a puddle of water on top. The electric outlet stopped working.

By now it was too late to cook  the rice so I moved to plan B – bread crumbs instead of rice. 

Sauté the ground meat (check), dice the onions (check), mince the garlic (check) and …..brrrring …… it’s the phone and husband calling. When I tell him I’m in the middle of preparing dinner he asks: “What are you making?” me: “Stuffed eggplant.” Silence for a few seconds, then a comment about the last time I made it when the eggplant wasn’t cooked through. I have to admit it was like eating shoe leather. “Make sure you cook the eggplant long enough,” he advises.

With that thought in mind, I scooped out most of the interior of the eggplant, and parboiled the eggplant shells first so they’d get a good head start cooking before their time in the oven. But 20 minutes in the boiling water was too long. Here’s the sorry state they were in when I rescued them from the pot:

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I had scooped out all but about 1/4 inch of flesh, but most of that flesh had cooked away to nothing in the boiling water. Still, I thought I’d try to reshape the purple blobs with the stuffing mixture and use the oval shape of the casserole to keep them intact. Whaddaya know? It worked. Here’s what it looked like just after I put the stuffing in:

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And here’s what it looked like just before it went into the oven, topped with cheese and tomato sauce:

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And here’s what it looked like just before it all disappeared quicker than you can say mozzarella.

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I’m kind of glad the rice cooker didn’t work because I liked the bread crumb substitution even better. And the eggplant was so soft and silky that the shoe leather memory was now history. The dish had such a luscious mouth feel it was like eating eggplant-flavored ice cream.   Hey, maybe that could be the next big thing!

Here’s the recipe that will serve four people or two shameless gluttons:

Baked Stuffed Eggplant:

1 large eggplant

1 pound ground meat (I used ground chicken breast)

1/2 cup minced onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 T. olive oil

red pepper flakes, to taste

salt, pepper to taste

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1 cup grated mozzarella (Don’t bother spending the extra money on hand-made mozzarella for this recipe – the already-grated kind in a plastic bag actually has a better melting characteristic.)

1 egg

handful of chopped parsley

about 1 cup of tomato sauce

  1. Cut the stem off the eggplant and cut it in half. Run a knife around the perimeter of each half, keeping about 1/2 inch of the flesh intact. Scoop out all the rest and chop it in small pieces. Place the two halves of the eggplant into boiling water and boil for about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and drain.
  2. Sauté the ground meat and discard any fat or water left over. Set the meat aside in a bowl.
  3. Sauté the onion until soft in the olive oil. Add the chopped eggplant pieces and cook through, continually stirring so they won’t stick to the pan. Add the garlic when the eggplant is nearly cooked through. Sauté until the eggplant is soft. Remove and place in the bowl with the ground meat.
  4. To the bowl, add all the rest of the ingredients except the tomato sauce, but save a little bit of the parmesan and mozzarella to sprinkle on the top. Mix together and fill the eggplant shells, forming them with your hands into an oval shape if necessary.
  5. In an ovenproof casserole, place a small amount of tomato sauce. Place the eggplant halves into the casserole, and top with more of the sauce and the cheeses.
  6. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30-45 minutes.
  7. If you can keep your mitts off, let the eggplant rest about five minutes before slicing. It will hold its shape better that way.

28 comments:

Stacey Snacks said...

Oh! what a nice thing to wake up to on a Sunday a.m.!
Beautiful eggplants!

Anonymous said...

How to learn from your mistakes, with wit! I don’t know if I read you for the recipes or just for the stories. I like both and your blog feeds the eyes, the mind and the spirit: Brava! Anna

Maryann said...

Duct tape works good too! LOL
-xox

YankeeSoaper said...

Great save! Looks just scrumptious!

doggybloggy said...

I like eggplant..I bet I would even like shoe leather eggplant...you see if we didnt know the 'behind the scenes' action of this we would all be none the wiser....

Terri said...

My goodness does that look good, even if the eggplant was boiled too long! I'm going to give this one a try this coming week!

Elra said...

Definitely bookmark Linda!
They don't just look good and also looks really mouth watering. Delicious!

Marta said...

OK, so it looks like the road to get here was paved with stress and near-failures, but the outcome looks delicious!!! I just adore eggplants, in any form, but especially stuffed with other yummy flavours! This looks like it was such a satisfying dinner :)

The Cooking Photographer said...

Wow, and to think this was almost a failure! I'm so glad it was really, these are beautiful!

joe@italyville said...

nice work Linda! sometimes the best recipes come from improvising and you made it work!

cathy said...

my body is craving something savory. and your pictures hit the spot. i only wish i had the real thing!

Emily said...

Oh geez. I love eggplant. Seriously, I go crazy for it.

Looks killer!

Antonella said...

These are my favourite food.

Jamie said...

Yum! I have had the idea to make stuffed eggplant for about a week and yours is making me want it even more.

And I hate when husbands doubt! How dare they! LOL

Proud Italian Cook said...

Yumm! I could eat that right now!

Cate O'Malley said...

I've never made stuffed eggplant, but definitely order it when we go out. Yours looks delicious!

5 Star Foodie said...

Stuffed eggplant is a great idea - looks fabulous!

Michele said...

Yum! I have an eggplant in the fridge. So the boiling time you gave us (10-15 mins) is that the too long time or is that what you think would work out better?

Foodie with Little Thyme! said...

WOW! You did a lot of work to save those little eggplants. The results look so very yummy.

lisaiscooking said...

Wow, those look delicious! For awhile your story sounded like something I've done, but you had a great ending.

Brendiva said...

I'v been checking out a lot of different blogs and this one seems great! can't wait to try the stuffed eggplant!

The Food Hunter said...

Oh that looks so good. I wish I had some.

Anncoo said...

Wow, looked so delicious, hope I can try one.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Sometimes the best recipes come out of a near disaster LInda! Your stuffed

eggplants looks so good. My sister-in-law stuffs mini eggplants with a potato/ bread crumb /cheese mix and they are so delicious. She will not share the recipe and I can never find it in any cook book, and try as I may I can't replicate them, but I'll keep trying..lol

Bridgett said...

Wow, these look delicious! I just love eggplant.

Juliana said...

That is really nice, looks so tasty...I love eggplant and I am always looking for new recipes...thanks. The pictures that you have are really nice

Peter M said...

Us Greeks have a similar dish called "papoutsakia" or little shoes. Try this out with the smaller, thinner eggplants, stacked side-by-side.

Regardless, the dish looks scrump!

Mai Mai said...

This looks absolutely delicious (and healthy). Thanks for posting. Now I know what I'm having for dinner :)