The Stuffed Eggplant or Melanzane Ripiene
A great dish when the local farm stands are overflowing with healthy eggplants.
- 3 Eggplants – medium size and firm
- Olive oil – for frying
- 1 cup onions – chopped
- 2 – 3 garlic cloves mashed
- 2 – 3 tbs tomato paste or 6 tbs tomato sauce – or to taste
- ¼ cup fresh parsely – chopped
- ¼ cup fresh basil – torn
- dried oregano – to taste
- red pepper flakes – to taste
- 1 lb Italian sausage meat or
- 1 lb ground pork
- ½ lb ground beef
- ¾ cups freshly grated Italian cheese – your favorite
- 1 ½ cups breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 325º.
- Wash eggplants and wipe dry. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the pulp leaving about a ½-inch shell. Place the shells in a preheated oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until slightly tender but shells can still hold their shape.
- Chop the eggplant pulp into small cubes and spoon into a colander to drain for 30-40 minutes.
- Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan and sauté the onions and garlic until soft. Do not let the garlic burn.
- Add the meat and cook until brown. Drain off some of the fat but not all as that will add some flavor and moisture. Add the chopped eggplant and cook until tender.
- Add the tomato paste or sauce, parsley, basil, red pepper flakes, stir and taste for salt and pepper. Don’t add too much salt because the cheese will be salty.
- When all is cooked, add the grated cheese and enough breadcrumbs so that the mixture holds together but is not very dry.
- Fill the eggplant shells and return to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until heated all the way through.
NOTE: If I am using ground beef only and no sausage, I prefer to use flavored breadcrumbs. Also, I usually have some homemade sauce in the refrigerator so I will use that instead of tomato pasted.
This works well with a nice salad and some crusty Italian bread.