Friday, August 08, 2008

Purple reign: stuffed baby eggplant

I completely adore eggplant and have been feasting on it lately. In Chelsea market, there’s a green grocer that currently has many different varieties including Japanese, Spanish, Italian, Zebra, and baby eggplant. They are as beautiful to look at as they are delicious.

I couldn’t resist picking up some beautiful neon Japanese eggplants and some adorable, plump baby eggplants. The Japanese eggplant got steamed and served with a spicy soy-based sauce. I wanted to use the baby eggplants in a recipe that would preserve their form and found a wonderful recipe for Geek-style stuffed eggplants with an eggplant-lamb-feta filling on the food network website of all places! I wish I could say that I added a stunningly original twist to the recipe but all I did was use baby eggplants instead of larger ones and add in some sautéed red pepper to the recipe.

The recipe sounded amazing and I knew it would hit the spot. It’s a great summer main dish. I served it with Israeli couscous which is a new favorite. The next day, I took leftover couscous, put it in ramekins, topped it with the remaining lamb-eggplant stuffing, sprinkled fresh feta on the top and broiled it in the oven for a great individually-proportioned leftover feast!

Greek-Style Stuffed Eggplant
(From Sara’s Secrets as printed on the Food Network website, adapted from Gourmet Magazine)

3 (1/2-pound) eggplants
1 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
2 cups chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound lean ground lamb
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
3 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
3 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into julienne strips
1 cup crumbled feta
(optional: one red bell pepper)

Halve 2 of the eggplants lengthwise, score their pulp deeply with a sharp knife, being careful not to pierce the skins, and with a grapefruit knife scoop out the pulp, reserving it and leaving 1/2-inch-thick shells. Sprinkle the shells with 1 teaspoon salt and invert them on paper towels to drain for 15 to 30 minutes. Cut the reserved pulp and the remaining whole eggplant into 1/2-inch pieces, in a colander toss the pieces with the remaining salt, and let them drain for 15 to 30 minutes.

Pat the shells dry with paper towels, brush them with 1 tablespoon of the oil, and broil them on the rack of a broiler pan, skin side down, under a preheated broiler about 4 inches from the heat until they are tender, about 5 minutes.

In a skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil over moderately high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Saute the onion and the garlic until translucent (add ~ 1/2 diced red bell pepper if using). Add the ground lamb and the eggplant pieces, patted dry, stirring, until meat loses all color and eggplant is tender.

Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the parsley, mint, tomatoes, feta, and salt and pepper to taste, and divide the filling among the shells, mounding it. Broil the stuffed eggplants in a large flameproof baking dish for 5 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and golden.


Eleganza Strings/ The DeLadurantey Family said...

These look great! I like eggplant and greek food!


Anonymous said...

I just love a new twist on stuffed veg and couldn't agree more that it makes a wonderful summer main. I look forward to trying this!

Y said...

Eggplant and couscous..heavenly!

Kajal@aapplemint said...

Sabra the colours in this post are just beautiful. As a kid i hated eggplants but as i've grown, i've begun to love this vegetable. Having it greek style is just fantastic.
BTW added you to my blogroll. Love your blog :)

Alexa said...

These look elegant and flavorful. Beautiful pictures.

Anonymous said...

The eggplants almost look too pretty to cut into. Taking the recipe with me on my trip tomorrow to make for relatives. Wont they be wowed?? Sudy

Anonymous said...

I used to do something similar with these little 'Finger Aubergines', but they never looked this beautiful.

Great job, Sabra.

Annemarie said...

Beautiful bowl to offset the eggplants. Whenever I see a Japanese eggplant I'm sorely tempted to fry it and cover it in a sweet miso paste, but I'm stuck in a love-rut with that combination and must break out...

Rasa Malaysia said...

I love mini vegetables, and have been looking at these in the market for a while, but can't think of a good recipe to make them. Thanks for the inspiration.

Erin said...

I love any kind of stuffed veggies, and will now be on the lookout for mini eggplant. They look so cute, and the greek flavors are always a hit. If I can't find baby sized ones, I might just have to try this recipe with regular eggplant.

Anonymous said...

I too love eggplants! Your recipe sounds delicious Sabra! Think I might try it! (at least I know that I can find eggplants here..:))

Anonymous said...

is it possible that baby eggplants (i didn't know they were baby) planted in same pot with jalepenos (i ran out of room:) ended up with a slightly "hot" afterbite to them? or have I killed myself with insecticide!? i'm an inexperienced gardner but try to be careful... i tested a few, roasted, and the initial flavor was great, but afterwards, a bit of pepper heat...just saying...:)

onioncloute said...

I just got baby eggplants at the market today and was looking around for inspiration: Yours certainly has the most beautiful presentation and tastiest-sounding recipe in the pages I've been through already. lovely! You've inspired me to treat my eggplants similarly well and blog them afterwards. Thanks!

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