Stuffed Baby Eggplants

stuffedeggplant

It has been a very odd summer here in Umbria, and from what I hear from family and friends back home, the weather has been unusual there as well. Up until now, it has been pretty wet and cool, although now that we are in the middle of August and summer will soon be over, it seems our “true” summer has finally arrived. In fact, the past week we’ve had lots of sunny days and warmer temperatures. Oh well, maybe we’ll have a very nice warm, long fall! Unfortunately, the cool, wet start to our summer hasn’t helped our garden at all. Although our garden was doing really well in the beginning, our zucchini are now rotting on the vines, our tomato plants have simply stopped growing, and our eggplants grow to about three to four inches in length and just give up. If I leave the eggplants on the plants longer to see if they may just continue to grow, they end up getting very bitter and are all but useless. The plants are very prolific in producing eggplants, but they simply do not want to grow. I therefore end up with a great many baby eggplants, which are as cute as they can be, but are somewhat challenging to cook with.

I have found that these baby eggplants like to be stuffed, and are in fact the perfect size for stuffing. Being as small as they are, the outer shell of the eggplant cooks completely as the filling cooks so no prior prep or precooking is needed before they are stuffed. I have played around with the stuffing ingredients depending on what I have in my refrigerator, but basically the stuffing includes the flesh removed from the eggplants, onions, garlic, tomatoes, eggs, and cheese. In the past, I have also added some chopped red peppers, and finely diced zucchini when I had it on hand, but the basic stuffing works well on its own as listed below. I serve these eggplants as our main course for a meatless meal, but since they are small, you they could also serve one as an appetizer. They hold up well, and I enjoy leftovers at lunch the following day, and think they would be a great take along option for picnics. If you cannot find baby eggplants, buy a couple of the smallest ones you can find.

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Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2014

Stuffed Baby Eggplants

Ingredients:

  • 6 Baby Eggplants (4 Inches In Length)
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion, Peeled & Diced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 5 Medium Ripe Tomatoes, Cored, And Lightly Squeezed To Remove Seeds
  • 2 Large Eggs, Lightly Beaten
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • 3 Teaspoons Finely Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • Salt & Pepper

Topping:

  • 1/3 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cut the eggplants in half, and use a sharp knife to cut around the outer edge leaving a small border without piercing the skin.
  3. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, and finely chop it.
  4. Place the eggplants cut side up on a baking sheet.
  5. In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat, and then cook the onion until it is translucent, and 5 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic and eggplant flesh, and continue to cook until soft, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes and cook another 5 minutes until the mixture is thick.
  8. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the eggs, cheese, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Spoon the filling in to the eggplant shells, and top with the grated cheese.
  10. Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  11. Serve at room temperature.