02 Sep Stuffed Eggplant
Don’t you just love that what grows together, goes together? Mother Nature has it all figured out for us.
For this simple dish, I wanted to use the fresh harvest I had picked from the garden. In Niagara, that meant I had eggplant, tomatoes and basil that needed to find a delicious way into my belly. These basic beautiful ingredients are the foundation for a simple Italian inspired meal.
You should also know (if you don’t already), that as much as I like to use local, fresh ingredients, free of chemicals in my cooking, I also like simplicity. I love cooking but I don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen. That really means the dishes that I prepare are usually very quick and simple.
So please excuse me if you’re Italian and/or if you like to make sauce that takes all day to simmer. I honour and respect that method and I love the results and taste from doing it that way. It’s just not my way when I’m in hungry. Warning: this is a simple and quick way to make to an Italian inspired dish, but certainly not authentic in it’s technique.
Now my next caution is that there are no measurements with this recipe. I used a small eggplant because that’s what I had. I think you’ll be able to easily figure out the proportions based on how many people you have to feed or how many eggplants you have to use.
What you need
- Ground meat of choice (turkey, beef, lamb, chicken or anything you like)
- Eggplant (one small or half of large for each person)
- Tomatoes (number will depend on how many people you’re feeding)
- Cooking oil (I use avocado oil, but grapeseed or coconut oil will do)
- Garlic, minced or pressed (quantity dependant on how garlic-y you like it)
- Cinnamon (1/2 – 1 tsp) THE SECRET INGREDIENT
- Fresh basil, chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Goat cheese or cheese of choice – optional
What you do
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Cut eggplant in half, lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the seeds and the middle part, leaving a thin perimeter of the eggplant flesh so that you create a boat to hold the filling. Be careful not to scoop too much out to expose the skin. You want a little bit of eggplant (1/4″ or so) remaining around the skin. Place the inside flesh part that you scooped out to the side and chop it into small cubes.
- Heat a skillet with a little bit of cooking oil on your stovetop over medium-high heat. Once the skillet is warm, place the eggplant boats in the skillet and cook both sides until slightly browned and softened. Once cooked, remove the cooked eggplant boats and place them on a baking tray or cookie sheet.
- While the skillet is still warm, sauté the garlic in a little bit of oil. Then add the remaining diced eggplant (that you removed to make the eggplant boat). Cook until slightly soft.
- For the tomato sauce, place diced tomatoes, fresh basil and cinnamon in a blender and pulse until a chunky sauce is formed.
- Once the sauce is made, combine it with the cooked garlic and eggplant mixture along with the cooked ground meat.
- Place about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the filling into each eggplant boat, top with cheese, if using and bake for about 30 – 40 minutes in the oven until everything is warmed and the eggplant is somewhat soft. If you get impatient, you can turn the oven to broil to speed up the process.