|Meatless stuffed eggplants (Melanzane ripiene vegetariane)|
Choosing eggplants is a ritual: look for even color and firm feel. The eggplant should be heavy relative to its size; when you pick it up at the market, it should be firm and crisp, not spongy, to the touch.
In this case, I recommend you do not buy too big to shorten cooking time.
6 small to medium eggplants
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red or green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups cubes of day-old country bread
1 cup water
1 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 can pitted ripe olives, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Mix eggplant flesh, bread, cheese, garlic, tomatoes, green pepper, black olives, parsley and black pepper. Drizzle a little of the oil over each shell. Fill in the eggplant shells.
Place the filled shells one next to the other in a greased pan. Drizzle remaining olive oil over each shell. Cover the dish with foil, and bake until the eggplant is tender all the way through, about 40 to 45 minutes. Uncover, and bake until the top of the filling is browned and crispy, about 10 minutes more.