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Chocolate and Zucchini
July 31, 2011
Some recipes, recipes like this one, are purely enjoyable to create from start to finish. This stuffed eggplant recipe is easy to make with very little active time, and as it bakes and cools it smells strongly of nutty baked eggplant and melting mozzarella. When its done and you cut into the eggplant for the first bite all the flavorful juices come pouring which you just have to soak up with some toasted bread, adding even more to the casual rustic feel of the dish. Eggplant is a staple of vegetarian meals worldwide because of its great flavor, meaty texture and versatility, and is the main ingredients in classic dishes of many countries, from Ratatouille to Baba Ghanoush. My personal favorite preparation of eggplant and vegetables in general is to stuff and bake them. It's one of the best ways to make the vegetable the main star of the dish and to work as many veggies in as possible into your meals, especially if you're using other vegetables as stuffing and not bread, meat and eggs like most recipes.
This filling meal contains a large amount of your daily nutrition, and would make a great dinner after a less than wholesome day. It not only has several servings of vegetables but it's very high in protein, has tons of fiber, and isn't high in carbs. It is a little high in fat, but a lot of it comes from good fats- nuts and olive oil. The amount of cheese can be cut down if fat or cholesterol is a concern. Alternatively, the portions could be cut in half, especially if you plan to serve it with bread or toast. There are also several of ways to save money with this recipe. Frozen spinach can be substituted to save time and money and processed shredded mozzarella can replace the fresh. Dried herbs can also be subbed, just remember to use half as much volume. As with most of the recipes I created myself, the flavors can easily be changed to suit your preference- in this case by using different spices or different types of cheese. There is also one main way to improve this recipe, and any eggplant recipe, which is to leach out some of its juices. While cooking eggplant usually removes most of the bitterness found in raw eggplant, this process will create an even sweeter and nicer result. It's not mentioned in this recipe because it must be done hours ahead, and isn't mandatory. To leach the eggplant, cut the eggplant in the way that it will prepared for that recipe, such as in slices (or as in this recipe, just in half), and apply salt to the exposed flesh. Leave it to rest for a couple of hours in the refrigerator, flesh side down on a towel, and the bitter juices of the eggplant will drain out. You then rinse the salt off of the eggplant, and it is ready to use.
1 Medium American Eggplant, halved
1 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1⁄4 cup chopped Yellow Onion
1 large clove Garlic
1⁄2 pound of Fresh Spinach Leaves
2 Small Tomatoes, chopped
1⁄4 Cup Grated Parmesan
1⁄4 Cup Pine Nuts, toasted
1 teaspoon chopped Fresh Basil
1 teaspoon chopped Fresh Oregano
Salt and Pepper
1⁄2 Fresh Mozzarella Ball, finely chopped (4 ounces)
Cut the eggplant in half lengthways. Place the halves on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 375F. Remove from the oven and let them to cool. Using a large soup spoon, scoop out the flesh of the eggplants to make a hollow cavity, taking care to keep the skin and at least 3⁄4 inch of the flesh intact.
In a large saucepan, heat one half of a tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until it becomes translucent. Add the garlic and some spinach and sauté, adding more spinach when it will fit. As soon as all the spinach is lightly wilted, remove it from the heat.
Roughly chop the spinach mixture and the eggplant flesh and place it into a mixing bowl. Add the tomato, Parmesan, pine nuts, spices and the rest of the olive oil. Mix well. Stuff the eggplant halves with the mixture, top with the mozzarella. Place them back on the baking sheet and put the eggplant back into the oven.
Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes until the cheese is melted and lightly browned and the eggplant is very soft. If the eggplant pieces don't seem done and the cheese has browned, you can cover them with tin foil and continue cooking at a lower temperature.
Cool briefly and then serve immediately.
|Calories*: 455||Fat*: 26 g||Carbs*: 30 g||Cholesterol*: 50 mg|
|Sugar*: 14 g||Fiber*: 13 g||Protein*: 21 g||Servings*: 2 (1 Half each)|
|Ease*: 8/10||Categories: Main Dish|
|Total Time*: 90 minutes||Active Time*: 30 minutes|
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