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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Stuffed Eggplant

This eggplant recipe is a good "starter" for those and kids who "don't like eggplant".  It simmers with tomato sauce and the result with the addition of cheese.. is simply delicious.  The flavors meld and the eggplant is mild.  I made this last night and for Scarlett's dinner, but baked hers in a casserole dish mixed with cooked penne pasta I had in the fridge.  (If you have learned anything about me yet.. You will know there is always extra pasta made whenever I cook it, so there are plain noodles awaiting a moments notice in the fridge)  Think yummy baked pasta..  This worked really well for her.. she exclaimed that dinner was "awesome" when she tasted it.  Triumph!   
Stuffed eggplant is one of my comfort food recipes from growing up.  Had it first when an Italian friend made it for my family for dinner.  I haven't altered it much, I think.  But I don't have a recipe, just was shown how to make.. so it might be a little different over the years.   This recipe here is the base and I often add more veggies. Carrots, mushrooms, kale and especially when zucchini is in abundance, it can be diced and added in.   You can also add ground meat or sausage for a heartier meal.   And I always like to top mine with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes for some added heat.

Stuffed Eggplant

1 large or 3 small eggplants
4-5 slices of Provolone cheese
Fresh spinach (enough to create bed in base of each)
2 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 red or yellow pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups tomatoes diced, in juice
1/4 c. bread crumbs
1.5 t. sea salt
1/2 t. fresh cracked pepper
1 t. basil
1 t. parsley

1/2 c. Panko bread crumbs
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
handful of shredded mozzarella
1 T. Extra virgin Olive Oil (plus more for drizzling)

Pre-heat oven to 350º
Cut the eggplant in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon, leaving a small bit to keep the shape of the eggplant. 
Dice the flesh into 1" pieces or smaller.  Set aside.  Place shells on a lined baking sheet and line shells with single layer of provolone and spinach.

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil.  Saute onion til becoming translucent, about 3 min.  Add pepper and saute another minute.  Add garlic, saute another minute and add diced eggplant, cook 3 min over med low heat.  Remove from heat and add Tomatoes with juice, bread crumbs, S+P, basil and parsley.
Spoon into shells.  
In a small bowl mix together  panko, parm, mozz and basil.  Moisten with olive oil.  Sprinkle on top of eggplants and drizzle with olive oil. 
Bake for 50 min. Till eggplant is bubbly and tops are lightly brown and crusty. Serve Warm.

Scoop out flesh with a spoon.  
Once you spoon around the edge, using your hand to pull out the center. 

Leave just enough flesh to keep shape of shells. 

Line with Provolone. (mozzarella works well too)

Ready to be spooned in.
Atop spinach and provolone.. mound it up.

Topped with bread crumb mixture and a good drizzle of olive oil. Oven ready.
Italian comfort food. Vegetarian meal, simple and delicious.

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