Saturday, September 10, 2011

Stuffed Grilled Eggplant

Eggplant can be a good replacement meat in many recipes because of its ability to soak up the flavors of other food it is cooked with. Eggplant is filling but does not have many calories. Many recipes call for peeling, salting, draining and rinsing the eggplant prior to adding it to the recipe. Rarely do I have time for these extra steps when I am trying to get dinner on the table in a relatively short amount of time. I discovered that I can eliminate some of this prep work by using baby eggplants as I have done here.

Stuffed Grilled Eggplant
adapted from Stonewall Kitchen Favorites by Jonathan King, Jim Stott, & Kathy Gunst

6 baby eggplants, about 1 pound total
2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/8 cup pine nuts
12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, finely chopped
½ cup plain bread crumbs
½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
¼ cup packed freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the grill or oven to about 350° F.

Cut the stem ends off the eggplants and cut them in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the eggplant flesh, leaving a ¼ inch shell on all sides.

Place the eggplants in the baking pan, skin side down, and lightly season with salt and pepper. Finely chop the eggplant flesh and set aside.

In the large skillet, heat ½ tablespoon of the olive oil over low heat. Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the chopped eggplant and another tablespoon of the olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the pine nuts and cook for another two minutes. The mixture should now be a nice golden brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in about 1 cup of the chopped tomatoes, bread crumbs, basil, and cheese. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as necessary.

Spoon the mixture into the eggplant shells, dividing evenly. Press and form a dome in each. (If preparing ahead, you can cover and refrigerate up to 6 hours. Bring back to room temperature before baking.)

Add the remaining tomatoes to the pan around the eggplants and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil over the eggplants.

Place on the hot grill (or in the oven) and cook for about 40 minutes, until the eggplant shells are soft and the stuffing is hot. If using the oven, you can turn on the broiler at the end and broil for 5 minutes to brown the top. Serve hot or at room temperature.