Welcome to my world - a blend of passion, taste, and old-world traditions.

Benvenuti nel mio mondo - un mischio di passione, gusto e vecchie tradizioni.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Meatless Stuffed Eggplants - Melanzane Ripiene Vegetariane

Meatless stuffed eggplants (Melanzane ripiene vegetariane)
Stuffed eggplants are one of our favorite dishes.  The filling can be modified in many ways: more spicy (adding a peperoncino), tastier (adding more cheese at the end of cooking), while the meat may be beef, pork, veal only, or a mix of veal and pork.  The choice is yours!  See Stuffed eggplants alla casalese.

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


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Pour the water over the bread cubes in a small bowl. Once the bread has softened, squeeze out the excess water.  Crumble and set aside.
Cut one end of the eggplants.  Wash and halve the eggplants lengthwise. With a small paring knife, score the flesh and cut the eggplant around, leaving a 1/4-inch border from the skin. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon, leaving eggplant shells or boats for baking. 
Salt the cavity of the eggplant shells.  Place the eggplant shells (cavity down) to drain for 30 minutes.
Chop the eggplant flesh.  Place the flesh into a pot filled with water.  After 10 minutes or so, drain.  Rinse few more times in a colander under running water.  Squeeze out the excess water.

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.