While I never really liked Eggplant as a kid, I’ve really grown to like it over the years. I still think it’s a bit of weird vegetable…kind of like a cross between a squash and….a….sponge? Which I know doesn’t sound appetizing, but they really are tasty. In this recipe video, I show you one of my favorite applications, stuffed Eggplant. I happen to be using baby eggplants that I found at the farmers market, and given their size, they make a great appetizer, but you can do the exact same thing with a regular sized eggplant with no problem at all. I’m also, using a bit of a Greek inspired, meat based stuffing, but there’s no reason you can swap out some or all of those ingredients (use bread for the meat if you want to keep it vegetarian) and use any stuffing you’d like. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Recipe Overview and Keys to Success
- When hollowing out the Eggplant, it’s important to leave a fair amount of flesh, so that the walls don’t break down, and the eggplant can hold its shape as it cooks. For these, I left about a 1/4 inch; and for a full size eggplant, I’d say leave about half an inch
- It’s tough to overcook this dish. The eggplant can easily roast for 45 minutes to an hour at 375, and you do want to make sure it gets nice and tender; so don’t watch the clock, rather test the firmness with a knife, and don’t take it out until it’s tender
- Make sure you taste the stuffing before cooking the eggplants to make sure it’s seasoned right. I use a mixture of beef/pork, vegetables, pinenuts, and spices, but you can easily swap out the meat for bread (day old, good quality bread). I like have the pinenuts in there to provide a different texture; but you also easily swap those out
- Make sure to taste and season as you go!!
RECIPE FOR STUFFED EGGPLANT
Ingredients (for 4 appetizer servings)
- 2 baby eggplants about 2 times larger than an egg
- 1/3 lbs of ground beef or ground pork, or a mix of the two
- 2 shallots diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoons toasted pinenuts
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 cup basic tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Pre-heat your oven to 375
- Prepare the eggplant by slicing off the stem, and the very bottom
- Using a spoon (either alone or in combination with a knife) scoop out the center of the eggplant (where the seeds are) to form an eggplant “bowl”. Leave 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick wall of flesh so it will hold its shape
- In a saute pan, cook the shallot and garlic over medium heat, in olive oil until softened
- Add the meat, season with salt and pepper, cook until meat is browned
- Chop up the eggplant you just removed when hollowing it out, and add it to the stuffing
- Add the pinenuts, a very small dash of cinnamon, a few grates of fresh ground nutmeg (or a pinch of pre-ground), and the oregano; stir to combine
- Add the wine, and let it reduce by half
- Turn the heat off, and add the parmesan cheese and again stir to combine
- Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed
- Separately, heat the tomato sauce to a simmer
- Spoon the stuffing into the eggplants, and top with a spoon full of the tomato sauce
- Place the eggplants into the oven and let them cook until tender (test with a knife)…about 30 – 45 minutes
- Remove, and let them cool for 5 minutes…then serve them up garnished with a drizzle of good olive oil over the top
These little guys make a great appetizer; or like I said above, just scale up the recipe for use with regular eggplant, pair it with a nice spinach salad and you’ve got a great meal. Hope you like it!
Wine Recommendation:I think this dish is very accommodating for wine pairings, and frankly pretty easy to find a good match. On the white side, I like fuller bodied wines, like Chardonnay or Viognier, something with a full month feel. On the red side, the creamy flesh of the eggplant will help support tannins, so I think you can go all the way to a Cab, but my preference is probably a medium bodied Barbara, or even a Grenache.